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Psalm 67 1
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah 2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. 3 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. 4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth. Selah 5 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. 6 Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us. 7 God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

clip_image143Background 2

We do not know who wrote this psalm, or when. It uses two ideas from the Old Testament, one is from the Book of Numbers. The other is from the Book of Genesis. Here is Numbers 6:24-26. They are words that God spoke to Moses, for Moses to tell the people. SELAH is a word often used in the psalms; we do not know what it means, probably stop and think, or pray, or make music.

Looking further at Numbers

  • v24 The LORD bless you and keep you.
  • v25 The LORD make his face to shine on you, and be gracious to you.
  • v26 The LORD lift up his face on you, and give you peace.

Who does God (and Moses) mean by “you” in these verses from Numbers? In the beginning, it was the Israelites, the people that Moses led from Egypt to the Promised Land of Israel. But if we read Genesis 12:3 we find that God said to Abram (who became Abraham), “Because of you I will bless all the families on the earth”. This means everybody! So Christians believe that in Psalm 67 God is saying this. “When people see the good things that I have done for my people, they will become my servants too!”

Bible Truths

Before verse 1 it says that the music leader must use stringed instruments.

Verse 1: There are three words or groups of words in this verse that are very important. They are:

  • Be gracious: this means “be kind when you do not have to be kind”. God should punish (hurt) us because we do not obey his rules (sin). Because he is gracious, he does not do this. He gives us time to say that we are sorry. If we do this, then he forgives us.
  • Bless us: this means “give good things to us”. In the Old Testament, the things are “harvest things”. When you plant a seed, it grows into something. A seed in a woman grows into a baby. The right sort of seed in the ground grows into something that you can eat. When God blesses someone, it means that they have a lot of children and plenty to eat. The fruits that grow in the ground we call the “harvest”. So, this verse asks God to give us children and food … and plenty of other things also!
  • Make your face to shine: this means the same as “be gracious and bless”. It is an example of Hebrew poetry. The two parts of the verse mean the same. When God is angry he looks away from us. When he is not angry he looks towards us.

Verse 2: If the “us” in verse 1 means the Israelites, verse 2 means that when God blesses the Israelites, then the whole world will know about God. It will also know that he can save them too. “Save” here means “make safe while we live on this earth, and after we die”.

Verse 3: This verse is a “refrain” or “chorus”. It comes again in verse 5, and in a different way in verse 7.

Verse 4: Again we find the idea that we found in verse 2. If people see that God is good to the Israelites, then he will be good to everyone! “People” in this verse probably means “God’s people, the Israelites”. “The nations” are people from other countries that are not Israelites. The word “joy” means what you feel deep inside you when you are very happy.

Verse 5: This repeats verse 3. We call this kind of repeat in a song a “refrain” or “chorus”.

Verse 6: In Hebrew poetry, the two parts of a verse often mean the same. Here is another good example. Remember, there was one in verse 1. “Bless” means “Give a harvest” – either children, or fruit, or many other things.

Verse 7: God does many things that show that he is very powerful. This makes many people afraid. If people love God, they are not afraid in a bad way, but in a good way. We call this being “in awe” of God. Awe is a good sort of fear! Fear is another word for “being afraid”.

Items for Discussion

  • Why is it so important to assign our salvation to the doings of a gracious God?
  • How would you personally know when God’s face is shining upon you?

This psalm seems to be saying that we have a God for all people – Compare these two ideas:

  • All people should be made to believe in one God.
  • All people should believe in one God.
  • Which do you think is described by this psalm?
  • This psalm has pauses, SELAH, in it. Why should we periodically interrupt our praises and pause?

 

John 5:1-9
1 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for a feast of the Jews. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 4 3 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath,

Background 4

We must remember that the Gospel of John is not a Synoptic Gospel and only covers about twenty two days in the life of Christ. The Synoptic Gospels cover most of the events of Jesus’ three and a half years ministry, however that was not God’s intent in inspiring John to pen this Gospel. Chapter Five begins stating that there was a feast of the Jews and that Jesus went up to Jerusalem. The Synoptic Gospels do not tell us much about Jesus’ trips to Judaea, but John specifically mentions three trips there to observe the Passover. John 2:13, 23 mentions the first Passover He observed in Jerusalem. John 5:1, although not specifically named, probably records the second and John 6:4, records the third Passover. His last Passover is record in John 13:1 just before His crucifixion.

Biblical Truths 5

Verse 1 All adult Jewish males had to go to three festivals. These festivals were called the Passover, Pentecost and the Festival of Shelters. Many experts on the New Testament think that John was referring to Pentecost in this verse. In his Gospel, John showed that Jesus attended these special Jewish festivals. Jesus followed the rules about this. It is clear that he loved to worship God with his own people.

Verse 2 The pool called Bethzatha was well-known. People believed that the water there had the power to cure people. The pool was in the city, near to the hill where the Temple was. Archaeologists have uncovered it in recent times. So we know that John’s description of it is accurate.

Verses 3-4 After John wrote his Gospel, people made copies of it. Then, people made copies of these copies. And that is why we can read the Gospel today. This is how all ancient books have come to us. The New Testament books are some of the most accurate ancient books that we have. Experts know this because they compare all the different copies of the New Testament books. People made these copies at different times and in different places. But they are almost completely the same. This proves that they are accurate copies of the original books.

However, sometimes some copies leave a verse out, or have extra verses. Verse 4 is an extra verse that appears in some copies of John’s Gospel. The verse is: ‘They were waiting for the water to move. Sometimes, an angel of the Lord came down. The angel would stir the water. After this, the first person to get in the pool became well again.’ This extra verse is not in our NIV translation. The point here was the reason why so many sick people were lying near to the pool. They believed that miracles could happen there.

Verses 5-7 But Jesus did not cure all these people. Instead, he spoke to just one man. Jesus knew what was inside the man’s heart. He knew that the man had faith.

Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be well. This seems like a strange question, because the man had been ill for 38 years. But Jesus wanted to get the man’s attention. He wanted the man to look at him. This was necessary to make the man’s faith become alive. Then, Jesus could cure him. This reminds us about how we make our faith become alive. We must look towards Jesus on the cross. We do not do this with our physical sight. We do it in our hearts and our spirits (see note on John 3:14-15).

Verses 8-9 Jesus told the man to do what seemed to be an impossible thing. He told him to stand up. The man had been ill for 38 years and probably he was lying down during all that time. But nothing is impossible for God. The man got up and he began to walk immediately!

The people who were watching would have been very surprised. But the Jewish leaders were angry. This was because the man was carrying his mat on the Sabbath. This was not wrong in God’s Law. God had simply told the Jews that they must not work on the Sabbath. It was a special, holy day (Exodus 20:8-10). But the Jewish leaders had added many extra rules about the Sabbath. These rules explained what ‘work’ meant. The scribes had a list of 39 different types of work. The man was carrying his mat. This was a type of work.

Items for Discussion

  • How is it that you “look at Christ” that is visualize Him in your mind; in your heart?
  • What does the fact that the man still had faith after 38 years say about his heart toward God?
  • Compare the heart of this man towards God to the hearts of the leaders that would later be angry that Christ healed and the man carried his mat on the Sabbath?
  • We have a lot of rules in our Christian Churches. How do we guard our hearts against having them become focused on the wrong things?
  • Using a pool as a metaphor, how would you describe those waiting today at the “pool” to be cured?
  • Do you think that society has focused on the wrong things, looked away from Christ when it comes to those in need?

Discussion Challenge

  • If the modern church today is a well with people around it waiting for a “cure,” how should we be responding; what should we be doing?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. http://www.easyenglish.info/psalms/psalm067-taw.htm
  3. Some manuscripts include here, wholly or in part, “paralyzed—and they waited for the moving of the waters. 4 From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had.”
  4. http://www.bible-truth.org/JohnChapter5.html
  5. http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/john-ma-lbw.htm
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