Someone asked me the other day about blessings. I suppose the person still had on their mind the Blessing of the Little Children. God is greater than all of us, and He abundantly blesses us with life and the good things of the earth.
It is easy to see how God blesses us. However, how do we bless God? As Heb 7:7 puts it in the NIV: “And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.” And yet, there are verses in the Bible where a human blesses God. Noah said, “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem” (Ge 9:26). Some try to water it down so that it means Shem is to be blessed by God, but there are other verses where men bless God. Melchizedek was the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ, but He is lesser in rank than the Father. Yet, Melchizedek not only blessed Abram, but He stated, “And blessed be the most high God” (Ge 14:19). Even Abraham’s servant blessed God (Ge 24:27). Paul begins his letter to the Ephesians with “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). And so on.
So, how do we “bless” God?
Well, “bless” comes from Strong’s H1288, “barak”. It can mean either “to bless” or “to be blessed”. Therein is part of the key. However, it is interesting that it can also mean either “to kneel” or “to cause to kneel”. Now, we are starting to move towards somewhere. According to the Gesenius’s Lexicon entry on Blue Letter Bible, “the primary notion lies in breaking, breaking down”. In other words, in either humbling oneself or causing another to be humbled. If you will notice, it’s a two-way street!
However, I also noticed it can mean “salute” or “praise”. Indeed, I had noticed that some modern translations replace “bless” with “praise” in some of the Psalms. Some also render it as “give thanks”. In addition, the Greek word G2127 can also be translated as “praise”.
Back to the Hebrew word, though. It can also mean “be adored”.
All of these actions, if you will notice, have to do with building up another.
Add to that, Matthew Henry’s Commentary says of Ge 9:1-7:
We read (ch. 8:20) how Noah blessed God, by his altar and sacrifice. Now here we find God blessing Noah. Note, God will graciously bless (that is, do well for) those who sincerely bless (that is, speak well of) him. Those that are truly thankful for the mercies they have received take the readiest way to have them confirmed and continued to them.
So, not only is it adoration and praise, things we do with our mouths, but to speak well of or act well towards another!
Then, I noticed an LDS site had under the topical heading of “blessed” “See also Bless; Glad; Happy; Joy”. It suddenly began to make more sense.
In short, we bless God, that is we give God joy, when we speak and act righteously (according to His standards, giving Him the glory)!
When you think about any positive relationship you have, don’t you try to do things that pleases the other person? Don’t you try to “bless” them with gifts they might like, letting them pick their favorite restaurant or letting them pick out the movie for the evening? Don’t you try to work their goals and aspirations into your plans as well? Don’t you try to speak kindly and with love towards one another? God has great plans — plans that include us. Do we try to include Him in our plans?
Not sure why I didn’t quite grasp the meaning of “bless” before.