It should ever be a joy to our hearts to observe the manifest delight that God has in blessing His people. Did he do it coldly, sparely, or grudgingly, the blessing would be divested of that which constitutes its highest lustre, and illuminates it with its brightest charm. But He who "loveth a cheerful giver" has set us an example of His own style of blessing in no degree unworthy of Himself.
How apposite in this connection is the word of the kingdom found in Luke 6:38: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom." But here we have to remark that the words "shall men give," simply mean "shall be given." For, observe, this is far, very far, from the way in which men give; and that the Lord has not men in view is evident from verse 36: "Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." And how blessedly do these words, "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over," exhibit the divine fulness and amplitude of blessing: as much as ever the vessel can be made to contain, and even more than that, a "running over" for those around, is the immeasurable blessing that divine goodness lavishes upon its objects. This was then the Lord's teaching, that His disciples might become like their Father in heaven, imitators of God as beloved children.
Take another word (Num. 6:22, 27): "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them." How Jehovah here profusely bestows His blessing upon the people, His heart gushing out towards them! He calls Moses before Him to enact this special ordinance, and to impose upon him this new and distinguished function. As king in Jeshurun - the prophetic, the priestly, and the royal officer combined in his pre-eminently typical person - he must be the medium of displaying to Aaron and his sons the style and character of the blessing in all its fulness and richness, in all its depth and amplitude, which God would have pronounced on the people of His love. Not until we get to Deut. 7:7 do we read of Jehovah's love to Israel, and then how touchingly is it presented, "Thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God: the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people; 'but because the Lord loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the Lord brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt."
Is it not fitting that a people so beloved and so distinguished should be taught the real delight of heart that Jehovah had in blessing them? "On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee." Here we have the first character of their blessing. It is the blessing of Jehovah of hosts, and its initial feature is security from evil, immunity from that to which all else were exposed. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people from henceforth even for ever. For the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous." (Ps. 125:2, 3.) For us how much more blessed a thing it is. Bodily, earthly, temporal deliverances belonged characteristically to Israel as the preserved of the Lord; but ours is a salvation marked by eternal security, not of a physical but a spiritual order, and which reaches to our very hearts and minds. Thus says the apostle, "The peace of God, which surpasses every understanding, shall guard (or garrison) your hearts and minds by Christ Jesus." Through the grace of God, the eternal security of the believer carries with it a present salvation of the soul (1 Peter 1:9), a future but no less equally assured salvation of the body (Rom. 8:23), and intermediately the heart and mind kept by "the peace of God" in the unbroken serenity and profound calm which prevails in the atmosphere of His own essential presence. This is what the Holy Ghost ever seeks to make good to the faith of the children of God.
The next character of blessing is found in verse 25, "The Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee." It is evident, from the frequent way in which this shining of the face of Jehovah is found in the Psalms, that it was a familiar thought in Israel. The most remarkable instance is that in Ps. 80: "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock: thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh," (the three tribes nearest to the Ark), "stir up thy strength, and come and save us. Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." (vv. 1-3); also in verse 7, "Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." And again in verse 19: "Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." The differences in name and title used in these verses clearly indicate the augmenting intensity of the plea for the shining forth of Jehovah's face as the Shepherd of Israel. To us its application is nothing short of the direct enjoyment of Himself, and as such expresses a specific character of blessing which ' no hearts like ours could or ever shall so appreciate. He never blesses us so supremely as when He makes Himself the object of our hearts, today and for eternity
But there is a third thing: "The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace." With what assured confidence can the saint of God go forward when he has the Lord's countenance! It is just this which makes "the path of the just as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." His countenance illuminates the path. To have the countenance of a human patron in any given course imparts assurance and confidence in proportion to the stability of it and him; but what assurance of heart is the portion of them who are countenanced by the Lord Himself! Nor is there any divine thing ministered to us that is more deep, more steadfast, or more assuring to the heart than "the peace of God." As the apostle says, it "surpasses every understanding." "And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them." Thus does Jehovah crown with His own name this thrice-blessed people, closing with the asseveration, "And I will bless them." Who will venture to tell us which stands out most saliently here - the strength of His purpose, or the delight of His heart in again and again and again blessing them?
But we pass on to Psalm 23:5, where the threefold blessing again meets us: "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over." As in Numbers 6:24-26 we get Jehovah's name presented at the head of each blessing, similarly is the pronoun found here in each case. The Septuagint reads: "Thou hast prepared a table before me in the presence of them that afflict me; thou hast thoroughly anointed my head with oil, and thy cup cheers me like the best wine." He who provides, provides everything; He who has done it, has indeed done it all. What security for the saint; and what serenity are evidently implied in the word, "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:" It is not that there is no enemy, but his power is so broken, and the divine resources made ours are so infinite, that we can really ignore him. As the Lord said, "Thinkest thou not that I cannot pray to my Father, and He shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels;" and as the apostle in a later day tells of "a great door and effectual being opened" unto him, albeit there were many adversaries.
Take another psalm (104:15), and again we see the threefold blessing: "Wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart." Here also are the bread (table), the oil and the wind, the positions of the first and third being reversed. The bread and the wipe, each connected with the need of the heart its joy and its strength - speak (to us, at least) of Christ in redemption to us; that bread is the bread, and that wine cheereth, not only man, but God also (Judges 9:13); while the oil clearly enough speaks of the Holy Ghost, through whom shines forth the glory in the face of Jesus Christ, and through whom only is there any reflection found in our faces; for it is the unction of the Holy Ghost alone that lights up the countenance with the reflection of that glorified One on high. The countenance stands for the person, and thus the face of Moses, as the mediator, so shone when (after his second forty days and forty nights he came down from the mount) that the children of Israel were afraid to come nigh him. Of Stephen it is said, "They saw his face as it had been the face of an angel;" and of the Lord Himself, as the glorified Man, we read that God hath "shined in our hearts for the shining forth of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." And as we contemplate the glory of the Lord with unveiled face, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit. Surely all will admit that this. alone can meet the significancy of that word, "Oil to make his face to shine."
How fully divine blessing was presented to Israel is evident when we reflect that "the corn, the wine, and the oil," so constantly connected in Deuteronomy and other scriptures, embrace the produce of the field, the vineyard` and the orchard, all made to yield their increase in blessing from Him of whom it is said, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof."
But these things perish with the using. For us they constitute the types only of what our spiritual blessing is in its eternally rich and infinitely ample character and import. The antitype of the corn is evidently the person of Christ Himself, the One who is the fine flour of the meat-offering, and the bread of God. Of the wine we find the antitype in His work of redemption; for in this aspect alone can we understand the heart of God to be cheered by wine. As we read also in john 10:17 - "Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again." And of the oil the antitype is seen in the Holy Ghost poured out - the holy anointing oil, "the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." (Psalm 133:2, 3.)
In this sense how significant is Hose's prophecy of a coming day, in the which Jehovah shall hear the heavens, the heavens shall hear the earth, and the earth shall HEAR the corn, the wine, and the oil." Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people. Yea, the Lord will answer, and say unto His people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith." (Joel 2:18, 19.) Do we go too far in supposing that in that day those precious lessons which the corn, the wine, and the oil supply to us now (even as the priests ate of the first-fruits of them) will be learnt by the earthly saints? And that it is in that sense the earth will hear the corn, the wine, and the oil, and the saints will in that (rather than in the natural way merely) be "satisfied therewith"? Then shall the word he fulfilled: "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in His excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and He shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew." (Deut. 33:26-28.) W. R.