The Word on the Week

Irish Blessing

The WhatsApp site, created by Chinese Malaysian student returnees as a vehicle to sustain fellowship between those who studied in Dublin back in the 1980ies, hosted “A Malaysian Blessing” this week.   This was sung by singers from 80 churches in a fine show of unity.    They sang it first in English then in their local dialects.

What was the blessing they chose?   It was the Aaronic Blessing; an inspired choice.               

“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.”                           Numbers Chapter 6 verse 23 – 26.

When the Lord gave this Blessing to Moses it was with the instruction that Aaron and his two sons (the clergy of the day) were to use it to bless the people.   It starts with the request for (probably) fruitful harvests, children, health, the presence of God   and that they be kept secure.  

Looking at the remaining lines; God’s face is inexpressibly holy (Exodus Chapter 33 verse 20).   It has not been seen on earth.   It is perhaps an expression of ultimate desire (Psalm 80 verses 3; 7; 19).    The peace referred to is not simply the absence of war but ‘shalom’ meaning complete well-being.

This longing to see God was met when Jesus came to earth.   The Apostle John puts it succinctly “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known” (Chapter 1 verse 18).

Blessings by their very nature must be selfish.   They are seeking God’s favour and protection on the person or thing being blessed.    Probably the best known Irish one is: –

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face;

the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,

may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

This blessing which is sometimes used as a prayer shows Ireland’s intimate attachment to the weather!   The imagery used of Wind, Sun and Rain feature as God-given gifts.   The last line speaks of the eternal security of the believer.             “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (St John Chapter 10 verses 27 – 28).   

Reader, may you know this security in your own life.