Blessing – “a public declaration of a favored status with God”*
God’s desire to bless humankind is at the core of His Covenant with His people (Gen. 12:2-3). So the idea of blessing – God blessing us, us blessing God, us blessing each other – runs heavy through the scriptures. It is also the purpose of our worship as we read in the Psalms, our biblical Worship Book: “Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Ps. 103:1)
The story of Melchizedek (Mehl-KEE-zeh-deck) is a short one – only 3 verses – but very important. With a name meaning both “King of Righteousness” and “King of Peace”, Melchizedek is a messianic figure in Jewish literature and is explicitly linked with Jesus in Heb. 5-7. He brings a gift of wine and bread (symbols used often by Jesus in his ministry), proclaims God’s blessing of Abram, gives praise to God, and then receives 10% of all Abram acquired in the battle. Many have pointed to this as the institution of the tithe, the giving of 10% of all we have acquired to God. Abram is blessed for winning this battle, for rescuing (“redeeming”) his nephew lot, and for his righteousness.
Our New Testament reading also encompasses a blessing but, as is so often the case with the Sermon on the Mount, it turns the traditional idea of blessing on its head. Jesus does not proclaim blessing on those who are battle victors, heroes, the wealthy, or the famous. Instead, Jesus proclaims a blessing on the poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungry for justice, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted. Jesus, God’s Son Himself, makes a public declaration of a favored status with God for the least of this world, not the greatest, and promises good things for them. This is the message of Jesus, that all wrongs will be made right, that all injustice will be rectified, that all will be well again.
Rather than seeking more blessings (for haven’t we been unevenly blessed by this world already?), how might we seek to bless someone else today? More than a smile, a friendly hello, or even a nicety undeserved, how might we truly let someone know that they are blessed by God today? And as always, how might we, as the Psalmist proclaims, “bless the Lord, O my soul”?
* This definition comes from biblestudytools.com/dictionary