Blessed be the name of God!
As I am reading and learning to pray the psalms, I came across the expression “blessed be the name of God.” That sounded so familiar to me. Slowly, my mind unraveled the mystery. As a young girl I remember kneeling down in a small church building and responded “blessed be the name of God,” over and over again. As the lector called out attributes and actions of God, we responded “blessed be the name of God”. Since most attendees were of Polish, or partial Polish descent, often this call and response was in Polish. My mind still remembers the response “Niech będzie błogosławione imię Boga”. It is only recently that I connected the Polish phrase to the English form of the call and response worship.
As I read through the Psalms (and other passages) I see this expression in various forms: blessed be the name of the Lord; let God’s name be blessed; bless the Lord and so on. Some examples :
– Psalm 113:2 – “Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forever…”.
– Daniel 2:20 – Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.
– Psalm 103:1,2– “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…”
There are many statements of this expression in the scriptures. (See other references to this expression: Ps. 41:13; 50:2; 72:18,19; 89:52; 106:48; 124:6; 144:1; Gen. 14:20; 1 Kings 1:48; 5:7;8:15,56;10:9;8:56; I Chron. 16:36;29:10-13; Job 1:21. It is an encouraging study to read these passages in context and learn who blessed God, what did they say in blessing God and why).
How does one “bless” God?
I was a little stumped by the term bless in the expression “bless, the Lord.” I thought, how can I bless God, isn’t that something He does to me? Isn’t that something we say to one another,?” We write it in notes of encouragement, birthday cards, and so on, ” God bless you”, and so on.
In the context of Ps. 113:2, the term “blessed be” comes from the Hebrew term “barak” which means bow or kneel. Brown, Driver and Riggs provides the following meaning, in reference to its use in numerous psalms: “to bless God, to adore on bended knee.” This gives us the picture of bowing before almighty God, surrendering our pride, our self, honoring, and praising him.
“Blessed be God, blessed be the Lord, blessed be the name of God” are all terms of praise, a praise to God that indicates His position as sovereign, Almighty God worthy of our honor and thanksgiving and crediting Him for all goodness and acts in our favor.
So when I, with purposed intent, take time to bow and worship God, praising His nature, His character and great deeds, I am “blessing the name of God.” So, “blessing” in this sense is a term indicating worshiping God, bowing before Him, honoring Him, and praising Him.
Blessing is Praising
The idea of blessing God, or blessing His name is closely related to praising Him. In the psalms we often see parallel type statements that mean the same thing with a slightly different tint or shade of meaning. In Psalm 145: 1-2 we see this parallel structure:
“I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.”
Another example of this is in Psalm 34:1 which states:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” And, again, we read it in Ps. 634: “So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands (a stance indicating praising God) in Your name.”
In my way of thinking, when I bless God I am praising Him with a heart of good will and gratitude to God. When I praise God I am praising Him from a heart of deep reverence, honor and adoration, with an understanding of His worthiness and my need for Him.
Blessing the name of God is worshiping Him and praising Him. We are ascribing to God the value and worth that He has. We, the creation, are honoring the Creator. We, the subjects are honoring the King. We, the children, are honoring our eternal Father.
Read through the book of psalms highlight all the verses on blessing the name of God. When was the last time you thought about God and honored Him as God? Take time today to bow before God and bless His name.