What It Means to Bless God
"Blessed be the God and Father." That those words signify an act of prayer is clear from many passages. "I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth" (Ps. 34:1). "Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name" (Ps. 63:4; cf. 1 Tim. 2:8). "Sing unto the LORD, bless his name" (Ps. 96:2). "Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD" (Ps. 134:2). To bless God is to adore Him, to acknowledge His excellency, to express the highest veneration and gratitude. To bless God is to render Him the homage of our hearts as the Giver of every good and perfect gift. The three principal branches of prayer are humiliation, supplication, and adoration. Included in the first is confession of sin; in the second, making known our requests and interceding on behalf of others; in the third, thanksgiving and praise. Paul’s action here is a summons to all believers to unite with him in magnifying the Source of all our spiritual blessings: "Adored be God the Father."
By way of infinite eminency God is the "blessed" One (Mark 14:61)—a title which is peculiar and solely proper to Himself. Nevertheless, He is graciously pleased to hear His saints attest to His blessedness. This was intimated by Paul when, after declaring Him to be "God blessed for ever" he at once added his "Amen" to the statement (Rom. 1:25). This amen, "so be it," was added not to a blessing of invocation but to a joyful acclamation that expressed Paul’s own satisfaction and joy. "All thy works shall praise thee" (Ps. 145:10). His works alone bless Him, for they alone bear Him goodwill. They bless Him not only for what He is to them and for what He has done for them but for what He is in Himself.
The nature of this prayer, then, is not a petitionary one like those which come later in Ephesians, but it is an ascription of praise, evoked by an apprehension of the spiritual blessings with which God the Father has blessed His people. The principal blessings are described in the verses which immediately follow Ephesians 1:3. The prayer was an adoring of God for such an amazing portion, such inestimable treasure, such a glorious inheritance. The apostle was filled with overwhelming gratitude for such infinite love and grace, and like new wine bursting out of the old bottle into which it was poured, fervent thanksgiving flowed forth from him. Someone has beautifully said, "The first notes of the everlasting song of the heavenly world are sounded here below, and are produced and drawn forth by a sense of God’s goodness and mercy as revealed to the soul, and especially when the love of God is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit." It was this which made David exclaim, "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name" (Ps. 103:1). He blessed God for having so richly blessed him.
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