Bible Verse: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
Scripture Reading: Numbers 6
If I were asked to choose a favourite verse from Numbers, it’d be a pretty easy choice.
The priestly blessing in Numbers 6 is one of the more beautiful sentences in all of Scripture. Its words are God’s instruction to Aaron and his sons on how to bless the Israelites and convey some of the essential characteristics of God toward His people.
As beautiful as these words and ideas are, it’s important that we actually understand what they mean. Let’s take a look at the elements of this blessing.
Bless: This idea is one of simple overflowing generosity and provision.
Keep: This is the only occurrence of this exact Hebrew construction in the Old Testament. But its root is the same as the description used for Adam and Eve’s responsibility in the Garden of Eden. It conveys the idea of doing the work necessary for a thing to flourish and reach its potential.
Gracious: When this word is used of God, it most often carries the idea of redemption. Whether from enemies, evils, or sins, God’s grace is a redeeming grace that rescues (see chanan in Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon).
Peace: This is shalom. Not an uncommon word, but one that we too often limit the meaning of. “Peace” is an appropriate translation, but this is not simply the absence of conflict; this is peace of freedom and growth, health and prosperity, welfare and well-being. Completeness.
You’ve probably noted that we’ve skipped over some phrases. Each of these phrases is couched in the Lord’s doing. It would be easy to simply skip over this idea under the reality that only God can provide these things. But these are God’s words given to Aaron and his sons on how to bless Israel. The image of God’s face turning toward them and His countenance shining on them conveys the reality of God’s attention and attentiveness.
These words remind Israel, and us, of God’s care and what that care ultimately results in. God’s plan, and particularly His timing, may not always match our understanding, but the reality of His attention and concern being focused on His people never changes.
May the Lord bless you and keep you today.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You that in addition to the great stories of Your protection and deliverance, there are places in Scripture that explicitly state Your love and care for us. Help me to understand that even when I cannot see Your hand or feel Your presence, You are here with me.
Reflection: How and where do you best experience God’s presence? How might you be able to share the presence of God with someone else today?
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