Blessing God? Very Brief Thoughts on Ps 103Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Hebrew Bible, Prayer, Psalms, Spiritual Disciplines, Worship
Christians, and Jews, often sing “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (Ps 103.1, NRSV). This is in fact not an uncommon train of thought in Scripture. The entirety of Psalm 134 revolves around blessing God.
“Come, bless the LORD all you servants of the LORD, who stand by night int he house of the LORD! Lift up your hands to the holy place,
and bless the LORD!
May the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth,
bless you from Zion”
These words are in our hymnals as well. But have you ever stopped to think, ‘How can a human being bless God?”
We can imagine being blessed by God can’t we. But us blessing him – well, we sing it but perhaps we do not understand it. There are few concepts more important than “blessing” in the Hebrew Bible. The concept is large and broad. When God bestows his blessing on a woman or a man it usually indicates they have have been “graced” in some way. That is they have experienced a special visitation of divine grace in their lives.
To bless also means to have one’s name held in high regard. God blessed the name of Abraham so he would be well regarded or spoken well of. It is in this way that Jews and Christians can sing Psalm 103 and “bless” God. No we do not “grace” the life of God but we most certainly can and do cause his Name to be highly regarded. We bless God by attributing good things to him. To bless Yahweh we acknowledge his goodness, his faithfulness, his power, and his grace.
To bless is is related to “praise.” Indeed the NIV translates baruk as “praise” when it is directed toward God. I do not necessarily like this rendering but it does reveal that the concept of praise is related to the idea of blessing God.
As we gather together with all the saints in the gracious Presence of the Lord God, we do indeed bless him. We will show that we regard his Name above all others. Further, we speak well of him by proclaiming the mighty acts of God in creation and redemption. We will bless God because he is worthy to be praised. Seven times in Psalm 103 we are called to “bless” the Lord God. As I bring this short meditation to a close let me simply invite you to get out your Bible and read slowly and meditatively through this wonderful call to Bless the Lord. The text is waiting to be an instrument through which you join the millions in the past who have used this vehicle to pour their being out in blessing before the Holy One. Psalm 103 awaits.