Blessing is God's imparting of divine favor; when a blessing is given by a man it is a human act invoking divine favor. It can mean also to give thanks to God. In the Old Testament, God blesses people directly-see Genesis 1:22; 2 Samuel 6:11-and there are many examples of men blessing others-Genesis 27:27ff. Such blessing is usually of the greater to the less (cf. Heb. 7:7). Things are also blessed in the Old Testament, God blesses the Sabbath Day (Gen. 2:3), and Moses blesses a man's property (Deut. 33:11).
In the Beatitudes, our Lord gives His well-known teaching. There is also the example of our Lord's blessing children who were brought to Him. The blessing of the loaves and fishes, and of the bread and wine at the , is almost certainly indicative of thanksgiving.
It has become the custom to end most church services with a blessing, although this is by no means a primitive practice and, for instance, in the new Communion services in the , is optional. In the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches there is a wide use of the blessing of objects. In general the Reformed churches have been reluctant to admit the blessing of things, though the blessing of water in the baptismal service has been made plain in the Church of England Series II services. Curiously enough, side by side with this reluctance, there has been no similar hesitation about dedicating various objects.
Benediction is also the name for a service in the Roman Catholic Church where, at the climax, the congregation is “blessed” by the consecrated host. This developed in thewith popular devotion to the host as a sign of Christ's presence, but is now falling into disuse through the impact of the and the practice of celebrating the Eucharist in the evening.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
Sometimes means the form of words used in invoking the bestowal of good, as in