Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary

Verses 22-27 (Numbers 6:22-27)

Here, I. The priests, among other good offices which they were to do, are appointed solemnly to bless the people in the name of the Lord, Luke 6:23. It was part of their work, Deut. 21:5. Hereby God put an honour upon the priests, for the less is blessed of the better; and hereby he gave great comfort and satisfaction to the people, who looked upon the priest as God?s mouth to them. Though the priests of himself could do no more than beg a blessing, yet being an intercessor by office, and doing that in his name who commands the blessing, the prayer carried with it a promise, and he pronounced it as one having authority with his hands lifted up and his face towards the people. Now, 1. This was a type of Christ?s errand into the world, which was to bless us (Acts 3:26), as the high priest of our profession. The last thing he did on earth was with uplifted hands to bless his disciples, Luke 24:50, 51. The learned bishop Pearson observes it as a tradition of the Jews that the priests blessed the people only at the close of the morning sacrifice, not of the evening sacrifice, to show (says he) that in the last days, the days of the Messiah, which are (as it were) the evening of the world, the benediction of the law should cease, and the blessing of Christ should take place. 2. It was a pattern to gospel ministers, the masters of assemblies, who are in like manner to dismiss their solemn assemblies with a blessing. The same that are God?s mouth to his people, to teach and command them, are his mouth likewise to bless them; and those that receive the law shall receive the blessing. The Hebrew doctors warn the people that they say not, ?What availeth the blessing of this poor simple priest? For,? say they, ?the receiving of the blessing depends, not on the priest, but on the holy blessed God.?

II. A form of blessing is here prescribed them. In their other devotions no form was prescribed, but this being God?s command concerning benediction, that it might not look like any thing of their own, he puts the very words in their mouths, Luke 6:24-26. Here observe, 1. That the blessing is commanded upon each particular person: The Lord bless thee. They must each of them prepare themselves to receive the blessing, and then they should find enough in it to make them every man happy. Blessed shalt thou be, Deut. 28:3. If we take the law to ourselves, we may take the blessing to ourselves, as if our names were inserted. 2. That the name Jehovah is three times repeated in it, and (as the critics observe) each with a different accent in the original; the Jews themselves think there is some mystery in this, and we know what it is, the New Testament having explained it, which directs us to expect the blessing from the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, each of which persons is Jehovah, and yet they are ?not three Lords, but one Lord,? 2 Cor. 13:14. 3. That the favour of God is all in all in this blessing, for that is the fountain of all good. (1.) The Lord bless thee! Our blessing God is only our speaking well of him; his blessing us is doing well for us; those whom he blesses are blessed indeed. (2.) The Lord make his face shine upon thee, alluding to the shining of the sun upon the earth, to enlighten and comfort it, and to renew the face of it. ?The Lord love thee and cause thee to know that he loves thee.? We cannot but be happy if we have God?s love; and we cannot but be easy if we know that we have it. (3.) The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee. This is to the same purport with the former, and it seems to allude to the smiles of a father upon his child, or of a man upon his friend whom he takes pleasure in. If God give us the assurances of his special favour and his acceptance of us, this will put gladness into the heart, Ps. 4:7; 8. 4. That the fruits of this favour conveyed by this blessing are protection, pardon, and peace. (1.) Protection from evil, Luke 6:24. The Lord keep thee, for it is he that keeps Israel, and neither slumbers nor sleeps (Ps. 121:4), and all believers are kept by the power of God. (2.) Pardon of sin, Luke 6:25. The Lord be graciou a48 s, or merciful, unto thee. (3.) Peace (Luke 6:26), including all that good which goes to make up a complete happiness.

III. God here promises to ratify and confirm the blessing: They shall put my name upon the children of Israel, Luke 6:27. God gives them leave to make use of his name in blessing the people, and to bless them as his people, called by his name. This included all the blessings they could pronounce upon them, to mark them for God?s peculiar, the people of his choice and love. God?s name upon them was their honour, their comfort, their safety, their plea. We are called by thy name, leave us not. It is added, and I will bless them. Note, A divine blessing goes along with divine institutions, and puts virtue and efficacy into them. What Christ says of the peace is true of the blessing, ?Peace to this congregation,? if the sons of peace and heirs of blessing be there, the peace, the blessing, shall rest upon them, Luke 10:5; 6. For in every place where God records his name he will meet his people and bless them.

- Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary