“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits… 20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! 21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. 22 Bless the LORD, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul!” – Psalms 103:1-2, 20-22
As we enter into this new year I’ll be sharing a series of one-off messages. Just a few things I’d like to teach you at the start of 2021. As is always the case, I believe these messages will be helpful for our walk with Christ.
Blessing the Lord
Both this week and next will be connected in theme (Blessing the Lord) and the text I’ll be using is Psalm 103. I want to talk about our call to bless the Lord and next week we’ll learn the why behind it or what will truly motivate us to bless God.
I think the question “How can I, as a Christian, bless the Lord?” is an interesting one. Not how does He bless me, but how can I bless Him? This really should be a question we ask every day. Maybe that can serve as a New Years challenge for you—every morning asking yourself how you can bless the Lord that day.How can I, as a Christian, bless the Lord? Click To Tweet
We are certainly called to bless the Lord. As we just read in Psalm 103, David’s call to action is undeniable. He not only commands himself to bless the Lord, he’s to do so with “all that is within” him. This term/phrase is most often translated ‘one’s conscience,’ and it’s sometimes rendered as “all my innermost.”
The Apostle Paul said that the goal of Christian teaching was to produce “love from a pure heart and a good conscience (a healthy innermost being) and a sincere faith.” This matches perfectly with the whole of God’s word as we already know that we’re to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength—we’re to love God with our inner most.
Going even further, David commands ‘every work of (God’s) hand’ to do the same—to bless Him. You and I constitute works of God’s hand and therefore we are included in this blessed call. So it’s not just David’s task to bless the Lord, but ours as well.
I’m a pretty cautious person when it comes to my participation with man-made creeds and confessions. I think well meaning people have derailed key Biblical truths by trying to improve upon them with creedal formulas. But it does seem that Psalm 103 helped to inform what the Westminster catechism called the chief end of man—that is “to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”
So, you and I—the works of God’s hand, are to bless Him. But what does that mean exactly? This is where rightly dividing the word of God is so important.
Blessing out Loud
The first way to bless the Lord is to praise Him verbally. The Hebrew term ‘to bless’ here berakah is used in countless Jewish prayers and songs. For example, during a weekly Shabbat meal, the candle lighting, the kiddush—the blessing over the wine, the havdalah—the main blessing, each begin with the words, ‘Berakah ata Adonai Eloheinu.’ This roughly translates ‘Blessed are You, the Eternal’ or “Blessed are You, Lord our God.” Verbal blessings such as these extend well beyond tradition though. The entire book of Psalms represents a verbal blessing to the Lord. We see just about every main character in the Bible bless the Lord.
So why verbal blessing? Why do we have to speak? Doesn’t God already know our thoughts? Of course He does. Are words of affirmation simply God’s love language and He just needs them to feel happy? Not at all.Why verbal blessing? Why do we have to speak? Doesn’t God already know our thoughts? Click To Tweet
God’s Declarative Nature
See, as image-bearers, you and I were created to reflect God into the world, even His declarative nature. What is that?
Everytime we utter a blessing, we function like our Heavenly Father. God blessed everything He created through the word of His mouth, and when we praise Him, we’re operating in this same function. Much of what we know to be good is because God declared it good.As image-bearers, you and I were created to reflect God into the world, even His declarative nature. Click To Tweet
Please hear me, though; I’m not talking about speaking things into existence—that’s God’s job alone. To believe otherwise is just plain stupid. What I’m referring to is the idea that there is power in words. Power to bless and to curse. Power to build up and power to tear down.
This is all about function mind you. Contrary to tradition, image-bearing has nothing to do with how we look or appear. How do we know this? God made male and female both in His image. We don’t look the same. There’s a strong case to be made that the angels are made in the image of God also. Of course that will have to wait for another time.
Instead, our image bearing nature has to do with the function we perform. This is what makes us truly unique. Contrary to the old arguments of free will or having a “soul.” Unlike the rest of creation human beings were made to rule and reign as extensions of our Heavenly Father.
Taking these facts into consideration there should be a lot of weight placed upon what we say as image-bearers. Words are a part of our function.
We not only praise God with words; what we say or confess as it were has bearing on our salvation. I know this is challenging for some but the Bible is clear, we must confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9).
God’s word also teaches us that we can “say” to the mountain move, or concerning church discipline that we can “bind” and “loose” things on earth. The list goes on and on.
The power of words extends to the negative also. James tells us that we can burn down “the course of our life” with what we say (that is through gossip and slander) James 3:6. My point is that God expects us to use words—He expects us to use them for His purposes—and one clear purpose is to bless the Lord.