Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24

Genesis 48:1-49:33; Matthew 15:29-16:12; Psalm 20:1-9; Proverbs 4:20-27

I've been looking for a family blessing for some years now - something to pray over our kids on birthdays, special events/accomplishments, new beginnings.  I've marked verses all over Scripture (one, years ago now, in today's OT reading: Jacob's blessing to Ephraim and Manasseh in Gen. 48:15-16 - so great, for sons especially).  But I don't think I ever considered Psalm 20 as an option until this morning.

This psalm could be read as either petition or as blessing, it seems.  It could be something we pray for ourselves or others when we or they are in need, desperate for God to "answer [us] when [we] are in distress" (Ps. 20:1) and to "send [us] help from the sanctuary" (vs. 2).  It could be both plea and promise ("We will shout for joy when you are victorious" [vs. 5]).  And it can also be read as a declaration - "Now I know that the Lord saves his anointed" (vs. 6) - a statement of what we have seen, heard, and experienced.

But what a beautiful thing to pray as a blessing over someone at moments of success or beginning!  Rather than waiting for the distress and desire to arrive, why not take these words and offer them to a child or sibling or spouse or colleague?  In the Old Testament, blessings were not simply good wishes for good things to come.  They called out the deep truths of who people were and pointed them toward the way God could use them and their traits in the future.  

When we married, my father prayed a blessing over Eric and me.  "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace" (Num. 6:24-26).  He prayed that for each of his children at their weddings, and it was prayed over my mother and him at their 50th wedding anniversary.  It was prayed, not because we needed to feel the Lord's graciousness at those points.  If anything, we were already aware of God's abundance to us at those high, special moments.  Rather, it was prayed for all of us for the future, for the times to come, for what was (and is) ahead.

And so, this morning, not knowing your stories and needs, I'm praying this for each one of you who reads these words.  "May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.  May he send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion.  May he remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings.  May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed....May the Lord grant all your requests"  (Ps. 20:1-5).  Amen and amen.

- Sarah Marsh

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 

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