What is Blessing the Lord About?

“Bless the Lord, O my soul.” The psalmist uses this phrase five times (Psalm 103:1, 2, 22; 104:1, 35). The blessing spoken of by the psalmist is more than just something we do to God. There is a relationship and connection between our innermost self and God (Kusher, The Book of Words, 103). That connection is found in our blessing God, a reversal from the common prayer that God would bless us, those we love, our food, and the things we consider sacred or important. That connection is beautifully described in the Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 10a:

“To whom did David refer in these five verses beginning with ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul’? He was alluding only to the Holy One, blessed be He, and to the soul. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, fills the whole world, so the soul fills the body. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, sees, but is not seen, so the soul sees but is not itself seen. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, feeds the whole world, so the soul feeds the whole body. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, is pure, so the soul is pure. Just as the Holy One, blessed be He, abides in the innermost precincts, so the soul abides in the innermost precincts. Let that which has these five qualities come and praise Him who has these five qualities.”

8 thoughts on “What is Blessing the Lord About?

  1. Thank you for those thoughts, Mike; “bless the Lord” calls me to the surrender & submission that comes with a deep, relational love – or Love.

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  2. Mike, Why does this seem to be complicated? Is it suppose to be complex? Does it take someone with a PHD in religious ideas and thoughts to understand it? I guess I need explanations that a child can understand to really appreciate what you are saying and teaching. I don’t seem to have the background for this. I can understand complicated mathematics problems, but this seems much more difficult to comprehend. I have a lot of confidence in you, but there are many times when I just don’t get it, and feel like it’s way to complex.

    Thanks for all your effort though, I truly appreciate what you bring to our church and do for the congregation. I’m in awe of your abilities, talents and character.

    Kind regards,
    Gary

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    • Gary, I appreciate your honesty and struggle. You are correct, this is not mathematical thinking. In some ways this is more difficult than complicated mathematics. It is not an intellectual endeavor in the same way mathematics is. We are speaking of that which cannot be spoken of, trying to understand that which cannot be comprehended. Having said that I am sure there are times when I make it more complex than it is. In some ways theology is as much, maybe more, about struggling with questions as it is coming to a final answer.

      So what is this passage of the Talmud saying? It points to a parallel between our self and God’s self, that as we discover our deeper being we catch a glimpse of God, that as we bless and give ourselves to God we become more fully ourselves. That does not mean we are God but that creation is good, holy, and in some way reflects and reveals the divine life. I think texts like this one do not so much offer an explanation but an invitation to wonder, search, muse, and ponder.

      God’s peace be with you,
      Mike+

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      • Mike, Thanks for your quick reply. I will study and think about the 2nd paragraph in your reply as it seems to add additional clarity and I like what you said in “it doesn’t offer an explanation but an invitation to wonder, search, muse, and ponder”. I like that goal in any discussion and think you excell at that. I think this is much more difficult than math to get my mind around (I’m not sure this is even possible). I very much appreciate your help with it though.

        Peace,
        Gary

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        • Gary, in some ways part of what this is about is learning a new language. Even as you learned to think, read, and speak mathematics so we must learn to think, read, and speak theology. They are two very valid but different languages and ways of thinking. Theology is more in the realm of poetry than technical or scientific writing and thinking.

          Peace be with you,
          Mike+

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  3. I’ve been thinking more about ‘bless the Lord”. When I take delight in one of my grandchildren, and I let them know that, I believe I am blessing them. When I stop to take delight in the Being of The Holy One, with all of my own being, perhaps I am at least approaching doing what the Talmud describes.

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    • Jan, I think that’s right. Blessing is not just between us and the Lord but also between us and each other – and that is also about the Lord. Blessing sees in some way to involve an aspect of self-giving.

      Peace,
      Mike+

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