The Lord bless you and keep you — Numbers 4-6

There’s always so many things to stop and ponder on these daily readings, isn’t there? Today’s reading covers things like the assignments of the Levites, a divine test for adultery, the Nazirite vow, and then Aaron’s blessing.

There are some progressive-minded folks (minimalists, liberals, unbelievers, etc.) who will dismiss the adultery test as nothing but a placebo-effect ritual intended to force cheating women to confess a sin out of fear that they would be disfigured and made barren by drinking the water of bitterness. One word — “Hardly!” Wouldn’t you be thinking, “Better no children than stoning”? No; this was a truly divine judgment.

And be sure to pay attention to the Nazirite vow. This sort of vow pops up in the Old and New Testaments fairly often. And occasionally there are folks who are apparent Nazirites from birth — Samson and Samuel. Nazirites are considered holy, a special designation applicable to Tabernacle, Tabernacle furnishings and tools, priests, and sacrifices. And this may explain why Samuel is allowed to work around the Tabernacle and make sacrifices.

And finally, we come to Aaron’s blessing — the biblical source of the song The Lord Bless You and Keep You. The LORD bless you — It is not the gods of Egypt, not the gods of Canaan, but the God of Israel who is called upon to benefit and favor His people. And keep you — To keep means to watch over, know about, and protect like a shepherd does his sheep. The Lord is called upon to watch over and protect His people. The LORD make His face to shine upon you — The Lord’s face shining upon His people bespeaks of His love and blessings, like the loving look of a parent upon his children. Disapproval would be shown by the turning the face away (e.g., Deut. 31:18). And be gracious to you — The Lord is petitioned to be kind and generous toward His people. All of God’s creation is utterly dependent on God’s grace, and since “… He says to Moses, ‘I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.'” (Romans 9:15, NAS95) this blessing seeks His favor. The LORD lift up His countenance upon you — The idea of lifting the countenance is about having a pleasant or smiling expression on the face (see the opposite in Genesis 4:5-7) denoting the emotion of being pleased with what you see. More than simply having God turn His face upon His people, this blessing wishes upon God’s people God’s lifted countenance. And give you peace — The Hebrew word for peace, shalom, bears more meaning than merely the absence of conflict. It is the word for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being — an “everything’s going my way” sort of a thing. What a blessing!

If I may be allowed to paraphrase: The LORD favor you, watch over you, and protect you. May the LORD always look upon you with an approving smile. May He grant you special favor for your every need. May the LORD always be friendly and favorably disposed towards you. And may well-being constantly be yours.

Yes, please. May I have some of that?

Tomorrow? Lord willing.

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About parklinscomb

I'm a minister for the church of Christ in Manchester NH where I've worked since the 1970's. I'm a big fan of my family, archaeology, the Bible, the Lord's church, and Gander Brook Christian Camp.
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