What Does it Mean to Bless the Lord?
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
- Psalm 103:1-2
Constantly throughout the Bible we hear of men and women who bless the Lord. The most common place we find this phrase is in the Psalms. David is constantly blessing the Lord through song and you likely sing songs at your church that include the phrase. But what does it mean? What are we saying when we sing, pray, or speak the words, “Bless the Lord?”
In order for us to better understand what it means to bless the Lord it helps to understand what blessing the Lord is not. If we were to give the opposite of blessing the Lord it would be something like faking to the Lord or a sham to the Lord. The term Jesus used was hypocrite and it was a sharp cut to the religious leaders of his day. Consider these verses:
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
“And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;”
Hypocrisy in the evangelical Christian world is often seen as someone who is one person on Sunday and another person on Monday through Saturday. This is true but not the full extent of what a hypocrite is. To Jesus a hypocrite was defined as someone who looked, acted, and seemed to be a devout follower of God every day of the week and everyone thought was holy yet their heart was miles from desiring God.
The true horror of hypocrisy is that it can be so tucked away in the depth of ones heart that nobody around them knows that they really don’t care about God. It is not difficult to say that the Pharisees of Jesus’ day didn’t see themselves as hypocrites but according to Jesus, they were. Today it is not likely that many church leaders of see themselves as hypocrites today, yet are.
If we do not want to be hypocrites we must learn to bless the Lord as the Bible exemplifies. David is often used in the Psalms as one who blessed the Lord, yet he was a sinner. How then did God call him, “A man after God’s own heart?” If this is true then sinning when a Christian does not make one a hypocrite. The difference between David and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day is rooted in a heartfelt blessing toward God verses a fake “blessing” toward God in front of others.
In Psalm 103 we see David speaking to the depth of his soul. “Bless the Lord, soul!” He says it twice. He wants the words on his lips to not just be on his lips but be an echo from his soul. Here are three facts that we need to understand about blessing the Lord.
1. Blessing the Lord requires our lips speaking and singing of his greatness.
When we think about the act of blessing the Lord we must use our lips. You can not speak of the greatness of God without mentioning how great of a God he is. So we must be able to speak of the greatness of God.
2. Blessing the Lord with only our lips is not really blessing the Lord.
Again I want to reinforce here that from a strictly fleshly sense, blessing the Lord would be to speak of the true greatness of God. Yet when we consider Mark 7:6 we see that when we only use our lips and do not have a heart after God in our blessings we give toward God then we are not truly blessing the Lord.
3. Blessing the Lord requires heartfelt lips that proclaim his greatness.
We can not truly bless the Lord unless it comes from the heart. When we do not bless the Lord from the heart we become hypocrites. We are lying about our longings for God, our faith in God, and our trust in Him when we use heartless lips to bless His name.
So how are we to convince our hearts to bless the Lord? What reason is there to motivate our soul to bless God? David says, “Forget not his benefits.” In other words, what has God done for you? In what ways has God shown up in your life so that He deserves our praise from heartfelt lips?
When we really consider what God has done there is hardly enough time to speak of what He has done for each of us. There is plenty of reasons to bless the Lord but do we recall them? Do we think of them and impress them upon our heart? When we do this we make way for our hearts to bring true gratitude and praise to God.
Recall the God who has done so much for you. The God who saves you, forgives you, loves you, walks with you, and helps you in your time of need. Speak this to your heart so that from your heart you may truly bless the Lord.
This is what it is like to truly bless the Lord.