Here’s something crazy: at the most basic level, being a follower of Jesus is about experiencing the blessing of God…Talk about a life upgrade! There’s two places we get hung up when it comes to God’s blessings: sometimes, we don’t want to let God bless us. Or if we do, sometimes we don’t work to bless others in turn. As we wrap up our journey through the Psalms of Ascent, we’re taking a deeper look at what it means to be blessed and to live a life that blesses others, too –– it’ll make a huge difference for all of us!
1. The blessing of unity
- The Songs of Ascent were sung three times a year every year. So if you were an Israelite, you sung these particular psalms three times a year for your entire life. That means the truths in these psalms are totally foundational –– lenses through which to see our lives and the world. Just like when we put on someone else’s glasses, the wrong lenses can make everything blurry. These psalms bring us into the same lens the Holy Spirit sees our lives through.
- Our world is full of different divisions: political division, social division, familial division, religious division. That’s because the flesh divides…but the Spirit unifies. As God’s grace overcomes our sinful nature, we receive union with God himself and one another. We have no control over what anybody else does, only over what we do. So as followers of Jesus, we should always seek after unity.
- Oil was a precious commodity at the time this psalm was written, so the psalmist is saying few things are more precious than unity among God’s people. You can always tell when the oil of the Holy Spirit is at work in a group of people because it’s only then that humanity actively works together to take broken relationships and make them whole again.
- It’s important to remember we can’t fix a family that’s not our own. Change happens from the inside out. So if we want to effect change within the body of Christ, we need to be an actively participating member of the family of God.
Describe a time you actively participated in a unifying work in your relationships. How do you need to seek unity in your relationships with others today? How do you need to seek deeper unity with God today?
2. Bless the Lord
- Those who “bless the Lord” are those who serve the Lord, like those who “minister by night in the house of the Lord.” The idea here is like when you are really enjoying something, to the extent that you lose track of time and end up staying way longer than you expected to.
- The imagery here of lifting our hands is both to signify enjoyment of God’s presence, and to ask God to lift us up, like a child lifts her hands to her father. It’s a state of total vulnerability, rooted in trust and love.
- Joy and praise are symptoms of blessing the Lord. No matter what we’re going through, our lives as followers of Jesus should be marked by worship to the Lord.
How are you blessing the Lord? Do you enjoy time ministering in God’s presence? Take some time and reflect on this honestly in your group or in your own personal devotional time with the Lord.
3. Let the Lord bless you
- God desires to bless his people. We have to live our lives in a way that God can bless. God’s purpose in our lives is to bless us –– plain and simple! But if we live in a way that is outside God’s design, he can’t bless that. So even though we don’t “earn” God’s favor, we can open ourselves up or close ourselves off to God’s blessing.
- Psalm 67:1-4 talks about the process of God’s blessing on us. When God blesses us, we praise him, and his name is known throughout the world. As his glory spreads, we are more inspired than ever to lift our praise along with believers throughout the world.
Take inventory of the details of your life as it is right now. Is your life one that God can bless? If not, what do you need to change? If nothing comes to mind, what are the blessings you are hoping for from God?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?