I just recently attended the memorial service of my brother-in-law where the words of “The Blessing” found in Numbers 6:22-27 were repeated a number of times. The reason being is because he often used these words with people he met, even to surprised strangers!
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.
These were the words the Lord “spoke to Moses [and said], Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites…So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.
Aaron, the priest was to speak out the blessing given by God and He promised to bless His people. My brother-in-law applied this in his own life and he sought to bless people he met speaking God’s blessing upon them. Those of us who knew my brother-in-law consider ourselves the recipients of such a blessing.
As we come to the end of Psalm 36 there is something similar to a Blessing, which includes both the blessing of knowing God and walking in his ways as well as the fate of those who go the other way.
10 Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 See how the evildoers lie fallen—
thrown down, not able to rise!
I have been to a number of funerals and I can’t help but see an obvious contrast between some of them. There are the ones, like my brother-in-law’s, where the deceased was a child of God and so much of the service speaks of the hope that we have as believers in Jesus. That this person unashamedly lived for God, seeking to be pleasing to him, loving others above themselves and confident that death is not the end of the story. Then there is the other type where there has been little or no relationship with God, and sadly, Frank Sinatra’s song, “My Way”, is used concerning that person. It goes:
And now, the end is near
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I’ve travelled each and every highway
But more, much more than this
I did it my way
The song concludes:
For what is a man, what has he got
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way
(Songwriters: Claude Francois / Gilles Thibaut / Jacques Revaux / Paul Anka. My Way lyrics © Warner Chappell Music France, Jeune Musique Editions)
I confess to feeling very sad whenever I have been at a funeral where the summary of the deceased person’s life has been expressed in the sentiments of this song.
How much better when “the end is near, And [we] face the final curtain” to be confident, not in the sad fact that “I did it my way”, but that we have lived our lives blessing others and experiencing God’s blessing in our lives as we have lived His way.
Father, Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart. And I pray for friends living life their way, may they not find themselves amongst those who lie fallen—thrown down, not able to rise! But, may they discover afresh Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life and do life your way. And now, may the Lord bless you and give you his peace! Amen.