Do you know how many nations are in the world today? How about ethnic groups? For most of us, we “checked out” during that day of World History class in school. According to the Joshua Project, a Bible-based non-profit research initiative, there are 17,428 people groups in the 195 countries of the world. The world population totals 7.93 billion and it grows every day. In the 21st century, we are in a unique situation where there are more people on the earth than there ever have been at one time.
These statistics might not be very significant to us in first-world America. However, the message of King Jesus is not for us to keep to ourselves. Notice the words of the Psalmist: “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, Go God; let all the peoples praise you” (Ps. 67:1-3, emphasis added). Most theologians agree that this passage is the author’s call back to the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6:22-27: “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.’ So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (emphasis added).
There is a stark difference between the two passages. In the Aaronic blessing, it is limited to the nation of Israel. The blessing that is described in Psalm 67 is vastly different because of its all-encompassing nature of the 17,428 people groups of the world. The contrast is stunning when you place into perspective that the Jewish people were not reading the Gentiles into Psalm 67.
The reader can almost view Psalms 65-67 as a “three-episode arch” of praise and thanksgiving. The Lord is told in Psalm 65 that praise is waiting for Him in the nature He created. The Lord is worthy of all praise for the marvelous works He does within the vast splendor of the universe. In Psalm 66, mankind is told to praise the Lord, shout for joy and revere Him for His answering of prayer. David remarks in this psalm, “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer” (v. 19). Psalm 67 is the climax of this arch by David stating that the entire world would praise God. All ethnic groups, nations, and peoples would learn of the saving power of the Lord.
Application. Jesus, in His last moments before His ascension, gave final instructions to His followers. Luke wrote, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Salvation has been provided by God for all ethnic groups of the world. Jesus intended for us to be followers, disciples, and servants of His example.
“What is the guide for the world?” Notice the words of the Psalmist: “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him” (67:4-7). Praising God should be the primary focus of the 7.93 billion people of the world.
It might sound too simple that the guide for the nations is to praise God. However, thinking that praising God is simple is why it is difficult. For many, praise comes easiest when good times are rolling. Job promotions, new marriages, children being born, and other “monumental events” are obvious praise-worthy moments. What do we do, however, when the tough times come like being fired, losing a child, getting divorced, and the like?
Satan does not discriminate when it comes to tough times. He does not see 17,428 distinct people groups. All Satan sees is a creation of God, his archenemy, which he believes he can destroy. Notice what Peter says: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:6-8). Peter, speaking to all people, advises us to trust in God. He doesn’t say, “Cast your joys on him,” but your anxieties. The International English Bible, a version translated dominantly by theologians of the churches of Christ, translates “anxieties” to “worries.”
195 nations, 17.4k ethnic groups, 7.93 billion people, and countless worries throughout them all. The praise we offer should be heartfelt, emotional, and with love in our hearts for God! That statement might be difficult for us to think about, but what does praise look like other than real emotion? An example of this emotional praise comes from the foreign mission field. Missionaries speak of handing out Bibles to a people group who had never had a Bible before, and when they received the Bible they began to weep for joy and sing songs of praise.
Do you want to know what has the power to bring all 7.93 billion people together? The guide for this answer is to come into the saving power of King Jesus and praise Him no matter the circumstances. As a people of God, we must show the world that unity among all people can be achieved and is something to shout about to the Lord. As the Psalmist said, “Let everything (17,428 ethnic groups, 7.93 billion people, 195 countries) that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 150:6).