“Bless us.” How many times have you prayed those words? Have you given thought to what it means for God to bless you? Do you want God to bless you with health? Wealth? Prosperity? What does it mean to lead a blessed life?
Blessedness plays a key role for God’s people the Bible. One might immediately think of the beatitudes of Jesus. The psalms are filled with similar beatitudes. The book itself opens with the words, “Blessed is the man who …” (Revelation 1:1). Revelation pronounces a blessing on the one who reads it and on those who hear and obey it (Revelation 1:3). But it is clear as you read Psalms and Revelation that the blessing envisioned is not always material in nature.
This is not to say that there is anything wrong with material blessing. David prayed for material blessing in Psalm 144:
May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields; may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
Are material blessings not true blessings indeed? Those who are privilege with such existence have every reason to litter their social media feeds with #blessed. But even as he recognises the wonderful blessing of material things, David concludes that there is an even greater blessing: “Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!” (v. 15). The greatest blessing, according to David, is to have Yahweh as your God.
But why is this true? In this context, it appears to be that those in covenant relationship with Yahweh are promised eternal blessing. David seems to be saying that even if our sons are not like plants full grown and our daughters are not like corner pillars, even if our granaries are not full and our sheep do not bring forth thousands and ten thousands, even if our cattle are not heavy with young and they do suffer mishap in bearing, and even if there is a cry of distress in our streets, we can still count ourselves blessed if Yahweh is our God because he is enough and, in his grace, he promises us an eternity in which those blessings will be forever realised.
Habakkuk sang of this perhaps more eloquently than most:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
Never minimise the material blessings that come from God in this life, but let Psalm 144 remind you today that, even in the absence of material blessing, you can live a life of true blessing if Yahweh is your God.