The Lord Bless You and Keep You

Last Sunday, before we went our separate ways, the family here sang “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” to the Francis family. It’s a difficult song, especially with all of the rolling “Amens,” so much so that I want to make sure that we do not lose the meaning of the song we sang in the music we struggled to get right.

The words are a direct quote from Numbers 6.22-27:

22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, “24 The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; 26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” 27 So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

The words of the song are the words of this blessing. But, we need to understand this blessing. First, notice the chain of command. God tells Moses to tell Aaron and his sons to tell the people. This is not some quick message Aaron came up with to tell people as they walked away from offering their sacrifices. This is not something his sons fabricated to say so they would sound spiritual. This is not something Moses created while sitting before the people in judgment. God tells them this is the right thing to say. This is God’s blessing He commands them to invoke on God’s behalf.

Second, notice the actual intent of the blessing. When this blessing was used, the priests were telling God how to act. They demanded God to give blessings to someone and to protect them. They insisted God would look favorably among someone and given them grace and peace. They were ordering God to lift His countenance or smile on someone. They could demand these things because God gave them permission to demand these things.

Third, notice God’s willingness to follow through on these blessings. He promises that when they gave this blessing to others and thereby invoked His name on their behalf, He would actually fulfill this blessing. He guaranteed His involvement in the lives of those whom the priests blessed with these words. It is easy to understand why, though, if you really think about it. The words of this blessings are demanding that God do the very things that God has revealed He wants to do for all of His children. He wants to bless us, smile at us, give us peace and grace. He wants to have a positive relationship with us, based on love instead of fear. He desires to bless us with provision and protection. When this blessing is given, we are asking God to do what God most desires and therefore we can expect that God will do that very thing if at all possible.

While we are not Aaron or his sons, and we are not Israel in heritage or nationality, the words of this blessing still work today because God is the same as He has always been. He still seeks to display His love. He is love (cf. 1 John 4.8)). When we give this blessing to the Francis family, we are asking God to love them the way God wants to love them. We are also inviting ourselves into that same relationship. So your job is now to love them, stay in touch with them, and not let them leave your life even though they are leaving the state.

“May the Lord bless them and you and keep us all!”