God -- the Global Hope

Does Psalm 65:5 have significance for us today?

Missions: The heart of God

Commentary on Psalm 65

"God our Savior,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
   and of the farthest seas," -- Psalm 65:5

The world today is a delightful mosaic of cultures. My own little corner of the world -- the Oklahoma City metro area -- has an Asian district, a German Oktoberfest, cowboy rodeos, a Syrian food festival, Native American pow-wows, a Czech festival, and a multitude of Italian and Mexican restaurants. Recently, the annual cultural festival of a local community college focused on Haiti.

So, even here in central Oklahoma, we celebrate cultural diversity. At the same time, however, we must not ignore the words of Psalm 65:5 proclaiming that God alone is the hope of all peoples, including those at "all the ends of the earth."

Passages like Acts 1:8 -- "be my witnesses . . . to the ends of the earth" -- clearly expect God's people to be spreading the news of hope far and wide. Indeed, Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:12, "Since we have such a hope, we are very bold."

Sadly, through the centuries, believers have not always been passionate about making sure God-called Christians go across "the farthest seas" to share the Good News. It's almost as if we have found a cure for a disease like cancer but feel no urgency to tell those suffering from the disease about that cure.

A story from 19th century China involving missionary Hudson Taylor highlights how slowly the Church has moved to proclaim the hope we have in God our Savior.

One day, a former Buddhist who had converted to Christianity asked Taylor how long people in the missionary's home country had known about the Gospel. Taylor somewhat reluctantly acknowledged in his homeland, people had known the saving hope of the Gospel for more than a thousand years.

"What?" exclaimed the new Chinese Christian, "Is it possible that for hundreds of years, you have had these glad tidings and yet have only just now come to preach them to us?"

Lamenting that his own father had fruitlessly looked for hope throughout life, the man cried out to Hudson Taylor, "Why did you not come sooner?"

That question should nag at us today. Missions mobilizer Phil Bogosian has expressed dismay that of all the people who die each day across the world, 70,000 of them have never had the chance to hear the gospel not even once.

The words in Psalm 65:5 about "ends of the earth" and "farthest seas" call us to look beyond our neighborhood, beyond even our own country to huge cities and remote villages elsewhere on earth where the gospel is not being preached. Sadly, as Carl F. H. Henry has written, "The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time."

Does the Psalmist speak the truth when he proclaims Yahweh (also pronounced as Jehovah) as the hope of all people on earth? If Psalm 65:5 is true, how can we be content with anything less than an all-out effort to tell all people on earth of the hope in God our Savior?

Reflection questions

  1. How does Psalm 65:5 relate to the cultural diversity coloring so much of the world today?
  2. How do you react to the idea that the Church has far too slowly worked to spread the message of hope to people across the globe?
  3. How do you respond to the question a convert from Buddhism posed to missionary Hudson Taylor: "Is it possible that you have had these glad tidings for hundreds of years and have only just now come to preach them to us?"
  4. How does the statement "The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time" relate to our efforts to spread the message of hope to all people on earth?
  5. What should individuals and churches be doing to contribute to an all-out effort to spread the message of hope in God to people across the world?

    -- Howard Culbertson,

This mini-essay on a world missions Bible passage is one of more than three dozen articles in the "Heart of God" series published in Engage, a monthly online magazine. That series explores what the Bible says about missions.

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