The prolific author F.W. Boreham was once described as a man who went about his life "scattering benedictions." That description colorfully puts an image in my mind.
For many the word "benediction" signals the end of a church service, the parting words of a pastor with lifted hands sending forth the congregation in the grace and love of Jesus Christ. The word comes from two Latin words meaning literally "good speaking" and is most often translated "blessing." Benediction is the act or pronouncement of divine blessing upon another person.
To pronounce a person or group of people blessed was given as a commandment to Aaron and his sons, the tribe chosen to serve as priests among the Israelites. The book of Numbers recounts that the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace' " (6:22-26).
It is a sublime utterance, blessing as much as it teaches. The hearer is lifted in the name of the Lord, the keeper of creation, the giver of peace, the one who so longs to bless us that it is given as a command. As a father looks at his son and delights to find his own smile, so the Lord lifts his face to those made in his own image, shining upon those called the "apple of his eye." The name of the LORD is exalted, for it to be upon us is a great blessing, and in it, God is glorified.
Herein lies the potency of benediction. At the end of his instructions for the Aaronic blessing, God adds distinctly, "So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them" (v. 27). Whereas doxology is ascribing praise to God, and prayer is expressing oneself to God, a benediction is a word of blessing on behalf of God. The former rise from the heart of the saint, the other overflows from the heart of God.
Scattering benedictions, it seems, is a high calling and a precious gift given to each of us made in the image of God. The putting of God's name upon one another as we go about life is the tongue's greatest utterance. It is a hopeful command, and our most uplifted effort. As God's name is set forth, not only is it God who does the blessing, it is God who is the very fulfillment of the words we offer. God is Himself the blessing.
Therefore, may the blessing of the LORD be upon you, and may you know the joy of putting his name upon others. For indeed, blessed are those who walk in the light of God's face.
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