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Bless, Blessing

See also Bless

BLESS, BLESSING (בְּרָכָה֒, H1388, εὐλογέω, G2328, to bestow prosperity and goodness, to worship God as good, to receive his goodness and announce it to others; אֹ֫שֶׁר, H891, μακάριος, G3421, the prosperity or happiness resulting from such bestowal).

1. God’s blessing. While blessing can refer to man’s praise and worship to God (“to bow the knee”) in acknowledgement of His provision (Gen 24:48; Deut 8:10), a more specific emphasis is on the blessings themselves, the gracious character of God in giving them, and also on the identification of those who receive God’s favor (Ps 1, “blessed is the man”).

While God Himself may announce His favor (as in the creation account in Gen 1:22, 28; 2:3), it may also be proclaimed through His official representatives, as by the father of a household (Gen 27; 48; 49), by the priestly Aaronic blessing (Num 6:22-27), through the king (2 Sam 6:18), or the apostle (the introductions and closings of the NT epistles).

2. Covenantal blessing. God’s favor extends to every aspect of life (Deut 28:3-6 and the blessings of the aspects of creation) but is ratified and announced in the establishment of a definite relationship of blessing (covenant); “general” blessings come in the setting of God’s people remembering the Exodus and the covenant which it reflects (Deut 28-31). God’s blessings are frequently presented as dependent upon man’s obedience, in contrast with cursings which result from disobedience (Deut 30:15-20); nevertheless, they are ultimately gracious, and cannot be referred to anything but God’s mercy and kindness.

3. Not magical but gracious. This gracious character is apparently the major factor in the liberal rejection of the Bible’s understanding of blessing. The irrevocable, effectual character of blessing (as in the case of Jacob rather than Esau, Gen 27:35; cf. Num 22 and 23 on the similar character of cursing) is understood by liberals as representing a primitive “magic,” which was replaced later by a more personal religion. However, it must be noted that the OT does not consider the word of blessing to have some independent force, but instead as always under God’s control (Deut 23:5). A proper understanding of the permanent character of the word of blessing must come from an appreciation of the faithfulness of the covenant-keeping God; to attempt to understand it in terms of appropriateness would be to contradict its basic gracious character. A further factor is the long-range, family character of God’s blessings, and their extension through the covenant family (Gen 49).

4. The blessed obey. The NT makes clear the relation of blessing to commandment. The Beatitudes precede the call to obedience in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5 and 6; cf. the blessing-cursing contrast in Luke 6:20-26), so obedience is the response to blessing, not the means of obtaining it (perhaps the gracious prologue to the Sinai law in Exod 20:1 is analogous). Much the same stress is seen in the introductory blessings of Paul’s epistles (“Grace to you and peace,” esp. the extended blessing of Eph 1:3-14) which precede instruction to the churches. See Beatitudes.

Bibliography B. F. Westcott, Hebrews (1889), 203-210; H. W. Beyer, Eúlogéo, TDNT, II (1935), 754-765; F. Hauck et al., Makários, TDNT, IV (1942), 362-370; H. N. Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom (1950), 185-191, 241-258, 259-284; Ridderbos, When the Time Had Fully Come (1957), 26-43; M. G. Kline, By Oath Consigned (1968); J. Scharbert, “Blessing” and “Cursing,” Sacramentum Verbi, I (1970), 69-75, 174-178.

Article 2

BLESS, BLESSING (Heb. bārakh). 1. God blesses nature (Gen.1.22), mankind (Gen.1.28), the Sabbath (Gen.2.3), nations (Ps.33.12), classes of men (Ps.1.1-Ps.1.3), and individuals (Gen.24.1).

2. Godly men should “bless” God; i.e., they should adore him, worship him, and praise him (Ps.103.1-Ps.103.2). The same word is used for what a worshiper offers to God (blessing) and seeks from him (blessing). When we “bless” God, we bring his glories before our mind and respond in worship and adoration; when we ask him to “bless” us, we invite him to call our needs to mind and respond in meeting them.

3. Godly people by words and actions can bestow blessings on their fellows (Matt.5.44; 1Pet.3.9).

4. In Bible times, godly men under inspiration bestowed prophetic blessings on their progeny; e.g., Noah blessed Japheth and Shem (Gen.9.26-Gen.9.27), Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau (Gen.27.27-Gen.27.29, Gen.27.39-Gen.27.40), Jacob blessed the tribes of Israel (Gen.49.1-Gen.49.33), and Moses also blessed them (Deut.33.1-Deut.33.29).

5. We can bless things when we set them apart for sacred use, e.g., the “communion cup” (1Cor.10.16).