Blessings and Curses

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.
(Numbers 6:24-26 ESV)

That is the blessing which God commanded Moses to give Aaron and his sons.  Aaron was the first high priest of Israel, and his sons were anointed to serve under him as priests.  This was the blessing they spoke over the people of Israel, so that God’s name went before them and he would bless them.  I like to place my hands on any man being ordained as a deacon or into the ministry and say these words.  It is a fitting and appropriate way to ask God’s blessing on others.

There is another phrase often borrowed from scripture that many think is a blessing.  Out of context is appears to be perfectly harmless:

“The LORD watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight.
(Genesis 31:49 ESV)

Now perhaps you kiss your sweetie in the morning and say this blessing, then count the minutes you are apart from each other.  I can imagine a parent sending a child off to college and offering this as a farewell.  And if you quote only this verse there is probably nothing wrong with that.  It is a rather poetic notion.  But… do you know the context of this passage?

Notice that at the end of verse 49 there is no close parenthesis.  This is only a portion of the conversation between Jacob and his father-in-law.  Laban had just explained that it was in his power to kill Jacob, but God appeared to him in a dream and warned him not to.  What he really means is “May the Lord watch between us so that I don’t kill you.”  Probably not what you say to your sweetie each morning (well, hopefully).  He goes on in verse 50 to warn Jacob that if he wrongs his daughters, God will be his witness.  It isn’t so much of a curse as a strongly worded warning.

Be careful when rightly dividing the Word of Truth.  Any passage must be considered within context.

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4 thoughts on “Blessings and Curses

  1. Interesting I have never hear anyone give the “blessing” from
    Gen 31:49. Never stopped to give it a 2nd look myself.

  2. Interesting… guess I should not be using those words with the wife. 🙂 Along the lines of your caution, I caught something a while back also. Several of our nation’s leaders have used Isaiah’s words from chapter nine to proclaim things like, “We will rebuild… we’ll be better than before (9:10).” But a quick survey of these verses shows Israel’s foolishness in thinking they could overcome the judgement God was bringing upon them, No, I’m not insinuating anything here… just a little humorous how verses are selected for quoting.

  3. I appreciate your comment, Clark. I try not to use “proof texts” when I write just for that reason. I want people to read the Bible for themselves, not to just trust my quoting one piece or passage of Scripture. God Bless you, brother.

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