The Lord Bless You and Keep You

The Lord Bless You and Keep You February 19, 2024

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

In Numbers 6, God tells Moses to have the priests bless the people. The first line of that blessing is, “The Lord bless you and keep you.” How does God want to bless us?


Numbers, chapters 5-6; Psalm 22; Acts, chapter 26

Numbers 6:22-27 (CEB):

The Lord spoke to Moses: Tell Aaron and his sons: You will bless the Israelites as follows. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face to you and grant you peace. They will place my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.

Observations – The Lord Bless You

I’d guess that just about everyone has heard this blessing pronounced at one time or another. And what a powerful blessing it is! Each phrase builds up step by step to God’s promise that I will bless them.

The Lord Bless You and Keep You

What does it mean for the Lord to “bless” us? The word itself has a lot of nuances of meaning. When someone sneezes, people often say, “God bless you!” People use the word “blessing” to describe some material or spiritual benefit that God has given to them. The Psalms frequently encourage us to “bless the Lord.” The Hebrew word [barak] means “to bless, kneel, salute, or greet.”

Okay, that doesn’t help us all that much. But God Himself is telling Moses to have the priests “bless” the Israelites by pronouncing this “blessing” on them. The first sentence of the blessing is “The Lord bless you and keep you.” Is God greeting us? Saluting us? No, I don’t think so. I think that the “blessing” consists of God’s promises as announced by the priests. And the first promise is that God will bless and keep us. “Keep” means that God will watch over us, guard us, and preserve us. He will protect us from our enemies. God will provide what we need. He will pay close attention to our lives and maintain us for the purpose of bringing us into life in his kingdom.

The Lord Make His Face Shine on You

The second part of the blessing is that the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. We understand grace – God’s unmerited favor. God gives us good things that we don’t “deserve” – that’s grace. But the imagery of making his face shine on us goes back to the beginning. In the primordial darkness, the first thing God said was “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). And that changed everything! Light divided the darkness – so that there would be “day” in addition to “night.” Light brings life (see John 1:4-10). And in the end, God’s presence will be the eternal light in his kingdom, so that “night will be no more” (Revelation 22:5).

For God to make his face shine on you means that God’s presence would be manifest in our lives. His light brings us life. It gives us direction. God’s light drives out darkness.  May his face shine upon us!

The Lord Grant You Peace

The word “peace” is so often misused and misunderstood that it hardly has any real meaning. The Biblical concept of peace, however, is still powerful. Most people know that the Hebrew word for peace is shalom, but not as many know what the Bible says about God’s shalom. The basic idea of shalom is of wholeness and health – in every part of life. “Peace is not, then, simply a negative, the absence of war. Peace is a positive notion, a notion with its own content…to be ‘whole, to be complete,’ to have physical and spiritual resources sufficient to one’s needs” (Anchor Bible Dictionary, Vol. V, 206).

God’s peace is the apex to which the blessing builds. God promises to “keep” us and move us toward his peace. He makes his face shine on us so that we have both direction and faith to walk in his ways. And as we do, the Lord grants us peace.

Application – The Lord Bless You and Keep You

After giving Moses the instruction on how Aaron and the priests were to bless the people, God says, “They will place my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” When God “places his name” on us, that means that he claims us as his own. We don’t believe that God forces us to live in accordance with that claim. After all, “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1; see my reflections from last week, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart” and “Immigrants and Foreign Guests”) – but that doesn’t mean that everyone and everything acknowledges God’s authority. But God’s people have God’s name on them, and God promises to bless them.

God is reminding us to seek his peace. Jesus promised us his peace (John 16:33). In a world that often tries to compel “peace” through violence, God promises his peace through love. When we experience God’s love, we know his peace. Recognizing God’s authority, and living in surrender to him, we learn what real peace is. God is able to keep us, make his face shine on us, and bless us. God’s work in our lives brings us his peace!


Father, thank you for the promise of this passage. You will bless us and keep us. Make your face shine upon us and be gracious to us. Lift up your face to us. Above all, grant us your peace. Help us to reflect your peace today, so that our darkened world may see your light and come to know you. Amen.


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