This psalm is a natural progression from Psalms 65-66 — from the praises of creation, to the praises of the Israelites, to the praises of the nations. Isn’t that how the allegiance of God is portrayed in the Scriptures? Despite creation being cursed by Adam’s hands, it still praises Him; it still keeps to the seasons; it still bears fruit as it should, withers as it should, and is re-born as it should, still portraying the gospel truth of Jesus’ incarnate work. Then Israel sees the light, the 12 tribes brought out of slavery and into the promised land miracle after miracle, through water and guided by cloud and fire; a baptism of one nation. Yet, Israel is to be a light to the other nations, so that other nations too will praise His name. Psalm 67 is thus a result of Psalms 65 and 66.
Psalm 67, however, starts with the same words as the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
The Aaronic blessing was one given by Aaron and his descendants, the Levites, to the Israelites. It is a blessing for the nation of Israel. If Israel is not blessed first, how can it be a blessing to the other nations? That is the logic of Psalm 67. God be gracious to us and bless us … that thy way may be known on the earth! As Spurgeon states:
It begins at the beginning with a cry for mercy. Forgiveness of sin is always the first link in the chain of mercies experienced by us. Mercy is a foundation attribute in our salvation. The best saints and the worst sinners may unite in this petition. It is addressed to the God of mercy, by those who feel their need of mercy, and it implies the death of all legal hopes or claims of merit. Next, the church begs for a blessing; bless us—a very comprehensive and far reaching prayer. When we bless God we do but little, for our blessings are but words, but when God blesses he enriches us indeed, for his blessings are gifts and deeds. But his blessing alone is not all his people crave, they desire a personal consciousness of his favour, and pray for a smile from his face. These three petitions include all that we need here or hereafter. This verse may be regarded as the prayer of Israel, and spiritually of the Christian church. The largest charity is shown in this Psalm, but it begins at home. The whole church, each church, and each little company, may rightly pray, bless us.
Indeed, if we know not of God’s graces and blessings, how can His way be known on the earth? Who would sing of His praises, or proclaim His name, if His salvation is conditional upon mankind’s efforts? Why would such religion be worth expanding, why would such philosophy be ‘good news’?
The Israelites, indeed, are to proclaim that God’s salvation be known among all nations (v3). God’s salvation is not reserved for creation, for Israel, but for the peoples, all the peoples, the nations — a common refrain throughout vv3-5. The question is not whether God blesses us; also not whether God is good; and not whether He gives good gifts to His children. The question for the ages, rather, is whether we are willing to be blessed by Him, to hide in His goodness, and to fear Him?