Today's devotion from Numbers 6.
It is no coincidence that the rigors of the Nazarite vow are followed by the priestly prayer of blessing. In fact, Scripture states that this prayer is how the priest may safely pronounce (speak) the name of God over the intended recipient. As I think about what is involved, it is truly a moving prayer. One that communicates the reasons for giving up so much in order to receive it.
The first of the requests is one of positive and negative action. Positively, we desire God to give to us blessing. On the other hand, we want God to take away or prevent those things from which we need protection. The idea is almost that of God as the gatekeeper of our lives. A thought that makes perfectly good sense. After all, He is our shepherd.
The next idea is fascinating to me. The expression of God's face shining on them means that God watches over and be personally invested in them. John Gill, 18th century theologian and English Baptist pastor, wrote:
The Lord make his face to shine upon thee,.... Cause himself, the sun of righteousness, to arise and shine upon them, and give both spiritual light and heat unto them; grant his gracious presence, the manifestations of himself, communion with him, clearer discoveries of his love, of interest in him, and an increase of spiritual light and knowledge of his Gospel, and the truths of it.
-Gill's Exposition of Numbers 6:25
The third idea is that of peace. May God look with favor on you and give you peace. Many commentators rightly note that the idea of having peace from and with God is impossible unless one has a right relationship with God.
Matthew Poole, a 17th century theologian, did not think it coincidental that the rigors of the Nazarite vow preceded this priestly prayer that made evident the worthiness of the temporary sacrifice. Though the sacrifice could not earn God's blessing, it revealed the supreme value of having a right relationship with God. What Poole noted was the appeal to the fullness of God. The providential work of the Father, the benevolent work of the Son, drawing God's countenance toward man, and the soothing ministry of the Spirit help us glimpse the Trinity at work.
How should the priest pray for the people? He should pray that they would know the fullness of God. We should seek no less today.