The Blessing of the Lord

"The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." (Proverbs 10:22)

This is one of the favorite texts of those who espouse the so-called "Prosperity Gospel." Essentially, this popular message teaches that personal wealth is in direct proportion to one's spiritual condition. On the one hand, this "pernicious" doctrine (2 Peter 2:2) claims that God must bless (by which is meant health and wealth) those who claim the promises of the Scripture. On the other hand, those who experience trials and trouble (by which is meant sickness and penury) are considered either weak in faith or deep in sin.

Careful biblical exposition always takes into consideration both the context and the setting in which a certain passage or phrase is used. In this case, the key phrase ("the blessing of the LORD") only appears six times in the Bible, and only in the Old Testament. And while God emphasizes physical and material prosperity to Israel during the "old covenant," the condition for such blessing or punishment was always obedience to God's commands (Deuteronomy 28).

The new covenant (Hebrews 8:13) stresses "spiritual blessings" (Ephesians 1:3), in contrast to the physical emphasis in the old. Whereas the six passages in the Old Testament exclusively speak about physical prosperity or chastisement, the 15 passages in the New Testament are very different. Paul speaks of "the blessing of the gospel of Christ" (Romans 15:29) and "the communion of the blood of Christ" (1 Corinthians 10:16). The spiritual blessings amplified in Ephesians 1 are focused on the wonder and joy of the eternal relationship.

But ultimately, the blessings that we receive here from our Lord are but shadows of the blessing that we will give to the King of kings. Then "every creature" (Revelation 5:13) will "bless the lord," who alone really deserves it! HMM III

Old Testament
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