“The Lord Bless Thee, and Keep Thee”

While the Israelites lived in the wilderness, God instructed Aaron and his sons to offer the following blessing on the people:

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.

Numbers 6:24-26

I’ve been focused today on the first line of the prayer. The Lord wants to bless us: to bestow gifts and favors upon us that bring us joy and help us achieve our goals. He also wants to keep us: to protect us, to sustain us, and to give us a sense of belonging.

Although this prayer does not appear in the Book of Mormon, it was likely familiar to the descendants of Lehi, since the five books of Moses were written on the brass plates. (See 1 Nephi 5:11.) So it’s not surprising that the following passages are reminiscent of this ancient priestly blessing:

  • Alma to the people of Zarahemla: “May the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless” (Alma 5:27).
  • Alma to his son Shiblon: “May the Lord bless your soul, and receive you at the last day into his kingdom, to sit down in peace” (Alma 38:15).
  • Helaman to Captain Moroni: “May the Lord our God, who has redeemed us and made us free, keep you continually in his presence” (Alma 58:41).
  • Mormon to his son Moroni: “I am mindful of you always in my prayers, continually praying unto God…that he, through his infinite goodness and grace, will keep you through the endurance of faith on his name to the end” (Moroni 8:3).

Today, as I pray for the people I love and serve, I will ask God to both bless them and keep them. I will ask Him to provide gifts and opportunities for them, and also to provide protection and sustaining support.

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