The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock; Psalm 18:46
Blessed – What do you get for a man who has everything? If you thought that was a tough question, try this one: what do you give to a God Who owns everything? David gives us the answer: knee bends.
The Hebrew verb is barak. It is associated with kneeling, saluting and greeting. We often think of it as it is translated here – blessing. But can a man bless God? Isn’t blessing always an act of the more powerful toward the needy? Yes, it does have that meaning (see I Kings 8:14), especially when God blesses us (Genesis 17:16). But there is a case where the opposite is true, not because we are powerful and God is needy but rather because we express our gratefulness and honor toward God by offering a blessing on Him.
Perhaps you’ve never thought about just how odd this is. Perhaps, because you clearly recognize God’s vast superiority over you, you’ve never said, with David, “I bless you, Lord.” Perhaps it just seems too comfortable. Then let’s dig a little deeper and see what this really means.
The Old Testament concept of blessing is not really about a hierarchy of power. Although it often occurs in this relationship, a blessing is really an invocation to endue another with power, prosperity, longevity and fruitfulness. All of this is set in the context of the Old Testament’s vision of the world, and that vision begins and ends with the grace and power of God. In other words, no blessing for anyone is possible at all without God’s primary and initial underwriting of the whole idea of blessing. That is why the Old Testament opens with God’s sole declaration of blessing over all creation. He alone is the ultimate source of blessing. To bless someone is to express your most fervent desire to see the person filled with every good thing.
Now, just because God already has all good things is no reason not to express our desire to honor and esteem Him above all else. While it’s true that we only offer back to Him what He has already given, the very fact that our hearts overflow with a desire to give it all back with thanksgiving is something of enormous value to God. It is His desire that all His creation should wish to express joy for Who He is and what He has given, and there is no better way than to return to Him His own blessing, magnifying His name in the process.
So, when the Old Testament vocabulary of prayer reaches its zenith, it includes barak, not as a sign that points from God to Man but rather as a sign that points from God to Man and back to God. Barak in prayer is the return voyage. It’s bended knees with hands held high. “The Lord gives – and I am honored to give back.” Blessed be the name of the Lord.