An Abundance of BlessingsApril 11, 2011 - 5:00 am
“Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”—Psalm 34:8
Perhaps one of Jesus’ most familiar and beloved teachings was spoken while he sat on a mountainside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. We know it best as the Sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes, which comes from the Latin word for “blessings.”
These verses, which can be found in the books of Matthew and Luke, describe how to be blessed by God — to be poor in spirit, to mourn, to hunger for justice, to be meek, to be pure in heart, to be a peacemaker, to be merciful. But did you know that these blessings could be recited as a prayer today in any synagogue — or at the time that Jesus spoke them?
In fact, many of these truths are expressed as well in the Hebrew Bible, which Christians know as the Old Testament. For example, we read in Isaiah 57:15, “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit.” Blessed are the poor in spirit!
Or we find in Psalm 37:11, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.” Blessed are the meek! And in Isaiah 41:1, “Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.” Blessed are the merciful!
When Jesus taught these truths some 2,000 years ago, I believe he spoke them as a Jew. In fact, the word that I believe Jesus used and intended for “blessed” is the Hebrew word ashray. We find this word sprinkled throughout the Psalms. It means blessed in the sense of abundance, that God will bestow His blessing in abundance — an abundance of comfort, an abundance of mercy, an abundance of justice.
On taking a closer look at where ashray occurs in the Psalms, we discover that those who are blessed with God’s abundance follow God’s counsel (Psalm 1:1), take refuge in Him (2:12; 34:8), trust in Him (40:4; 84:12), and dwell in His house (84:4). In turn, they are blessed with God’s forgiveness (32:1-2), His deliverance in times of trouble (41:1), His guiding presence (89:15), and His discipline (94:12).
As we turn to God and follow Him in obedience and love, these blessings and more are abundantly and lavishly showered upon us. Indeed, the more we seek to adopt those qualities and characteristics of those God blesses, the more we, in turn, will be blessed. As the psalm writer more eloquently put it, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him” (34:8).
As we take that first step to obey and follow God, we cannot help but experience all the good things He has planned for us. Abundantly.