The Priestly Blessing
Numbers 6:22-27
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…


1. One of the special duties of the priests was to be the medium of blessing (Deuteronomy 21:5). The priests had much to do with slaughter and sacrifice; here we have a pleasant view of one of their higher functions. Yet to enter heartily into this duty required an elevation of character which the mechanical duties of the altar did not call for. Every servant of God who is faithful in that which is least may find opportunities for higher spiritual services (Matthew 13:12; Matthew 25:29).

2. The triple repetition of the name Jehovah was supposed by the Jews themselves to contain some mystery. At any rate it suggested that as there was in God an infinity of holiness that no one term could express (Isaiah 6:3), so God has for his people a fullness of blessing beyond what any single utterance of his favour would have suggested (cf. Exodus 33:19; Exodus 34:6, 7; Isaiah 63:7; Ephesians 2:4-10). To us the mystery is further revealed by the doctrine of the Trinity. For it is to be noted that in the New Testament that doctrine is always presented in some practical aspect, often in connection with privileges conferred by the triune "God of our salvation" (e.g. John 14:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Ephesians 2:18, etc.).

3. The Divine blessing, though uttered on the nation, was designed for each individual. The "thee" brings the blessing home to each house and heart. God, who has blessings full enough for the whole world, has an appropriate benediction for the neediest of his children (Psalm 40:17). The sunlight is for the sake of the tiniest insect and seed- ling as well as for the whole human race; and God's blessing is for the sick child in the cottage as much as for "the holy Church throughout all the world" (Psalm 25:10: Romans 8:28).

4. This priestly benediction supplied or suggested the sub- stance of many prayers and benedictions in later days. Echoes of it are heard repeatedly in the Book of Psalms (e.g., Psalm 4:6; Psalm 29:11; Psalm 31:16; Psalm 67:1; Psalm 80:3; Psalm 121; Psalm 134). As God's mercies are from everlasting to everlasting, and are "new every morning," so God's words of benediction are like germs of beauty and fruitfulness, reproducing themselves from generation to generation in new and precious forms. "The form of sound words" may be a valuable heritage in the Church of God.

II. THE PARTICULARS OF THE BLESSING. Each clause of the triple blessing contains a promise from God. Combining these, we find that the blessing includes these three favours: protection (verse 24), pardon (verse 25), peace (verse 26).

1. Protection. "The blessing of God," says Calvin, "is the goodness of God in action, by which a supply of all good pours down to us from his favour, as from its only fountain." We can confidently commend ourselves, and all who are the "blessed of the Lord," to his keeping, both in regard to spiritual preservation (1 Thessalonians 5:23, 24) and temporal deliverances (Psalm 91:11; Isaiah 27:3). Because our High Priest has offered the prayer (John 17:11), we may utter the doxology (2 Timothy 4:18; Jude 1:24, 25).

2. Pardon (verse 25). The face of the Lord represents the aspect which God bears towards man, whether of sunshine and favour (Psalm 21:6; Psalm 34:15; Psalm 119:135; Daniel 9:17) or cloud and wrath (Exodus 14:24; Psalm 34:16; Leviticus 17:10; Leviticus 20:3). The shining of God's countenance is an assurance that God will be gracious; its shining upon "thee" a pledge that we have received the grace and pardon we need (Psalm 31:16; Psalm 80:3). The little child feels the difference between the shining and the averted face of the mother, and the Christian cries, Psalm 143:3, 7. If God grants us to hear "the joyful sound" of forgiveness, we "walk all day long in the light of his countenance."

3. Peace (verse 26). The lifting up of God's countenance may suggest his active intervention to secure to us the blessing of peace. Illustrate, sun rising on the world, "with healing in its wings." Such looks from God will compensate for earthly privations (Psalm 4:6, 7), and the expectation of them may sustain us in the night of trouble (Psalm 42:5). The Christian's peace is "the peace of God," "my peace," communicated by Divine power to the soul (John 14:27; John 15:11; Philippians 4:6, 7). These prayers of blessing remind us that all the relations of life may be thus sanctified, and our warmest wishes breathed forth in the form of prayers: e.g., pastor for flock (Ephesians 6:23, 24; 2 Thessalonians 3:16); Christian for fellow-worshipper (Psalm 118:26; Psalm 134:3); master for servants (Ruth 2:4; 2 Samuel 6:18 20); friend for correspondent (2 Timothy 4:22). But our words of blessing avail not unless God adds his "Amen," as he promises in verse 27. Our benediction, whether of men or God, is only in words; God's blessing is in deeds. His blessing when pledged cannot be reversed (Genesis 22:15-18; Numbers 23:19, 20). Spiritual blessings are part of the new covenant, which by faith we may enjoy for ourselves and invoke on others (Ephesians 1:1-3, 15-19). - P.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

WEB: Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

The Benediction Through the Priests
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