Bless You

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26)

This beautiful blessing is the oldest contained in the Bible. Not only that, it’s the oldest known biblical text found by archaeologists. An amulet bearing this blessing was found dating all the way back to before 586 B.C. when the first temple was destroyed.

It’s been used as a blessing in Jewish services for centuries. It’s often recited in Christian services as well. It’s even permeated pop culture. It’s the first line in the Bob Dylan song Forever Young. In the move Deep Impact, Morgan Freeman — playing the President — quotes it just as a comet is about to smash into earth. It’s also the inspiration behind Star Trek’s “live long and prosper” greeting and the “Vulcan Hand Salute” made famous by Leonard Nimoy as Dr. Spock. Nimoy grew up in a Jewish home and based the salute on a similar “V” gesture priests traditionally make while giving the blessing.

Here’s a translation from the Ancient Hebrew Research Center that illuminates a few more details:

Yahweh (he who exists) will kneel before you presenting gifts
and will guard you with a hedge of protection,
Yahweh (he who exists) will illuminate
the wholeness of his being toward you bringing order
and he will provide you with love, sustenance and friendship,
Yahweh (he who exists) will lift up his wholeness of being
and look upon you and he will set in place
all you need to be whole and complete.


It Is Well

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Everything seemed to be going well for Horatio Spafford. He was a successful lawyer and businessman and had a young family of six.

But then everything changed.

In 1870, Horatio, Jr., his only son, died of scarlet fever at the age of four. Then, in 1871, the Great Chicago Fire swept through the city and destroyed virtually everything Spafford owned.

In the Fall of 1873, the family decided to take a trip to England for a vacation. Horatio placed his wife, Anna, and their four young daughters, Annie, Maggie, Bessie and Tanetta, aboard the steamship Ville du Havre, sailing from New York City to France. In the early morning hours of November 22, the ship was struck by another vessel. 276 people lost their lives, including all four of the Spaffords’ children.

When Mrs. Spafford arrived in England, she sent her husband a telegram. It said: “Saved alone.”

After spending a night in deep anguish, in the morning Horatio turned to a friend and said, “I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost me something.” He then journeyed across the Atlantic to meet his wife. As the captain announced that they were passing over the place where the Ville du Havre had been lost, Spafford sat down in his cabin and penned the words to a hymn that would give comfort to many, It Is Well with My Soul:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

(Refrain) It is well (it is well),
With my soul (with my soul),
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan would buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Be Still

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

Turn off the TV.  Put away the iPod.  Shut down the BlackBerry.  Unplug the computer (not ’til after you read this, of course).

Spend some quiet time right now alone with God.  It’ll make your day.