Isaac gives his son Jacob an important blessing in today’s Bible reading*. In Twenty-first Century Western culture, we miss the importance of a father giving his son (or daughter) a blessing. But a blessing is so very important, even today!
In the case of Isaac and Jacob, Isaac thought he was giving his blessing to his firstborn son, Esau. But Jacob, the trickster — who had tricked Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of cereal — conned his twin brother out of their father’s blessing as well. Isaac had a blessing for his second-born son as well, but it was very different than his firstborn’s blessing.
While Isaac’s behavior can never be excused, we can learn a lot from this story. The father’s blessing was very important to Isaac. Isaac realized that as a father, this could be the last time he would speak to his son. Esau was his favorite, while Jacob was his wife’s favorite. (Genesis 25:28)
Isaac’s blessing was important to Rebekah. Perhaps she saw Isaac’s pain of being known as a “mama’s boy”. Her son missed out on the hunting trips with his dad and she thought he could use some kind words from his dad before he died. She wanted the best for her favorite son and devised a plan to deceive her husband. Oh, the lies we will tell to get what we want!
Isaac’s blessing was also important to Jacob. Though he didn’t concoct the plan, he went along with it and even disguised himself and lied to Isaac several times in order to get the blessing.
Finally, Isaac’s blessing was important to Esau, the son who missed out on the blessing his father specifically prepared for him. He went hunting for perhaps his father’s last meal, cooked it up, and then learned his brother had stolen from him the only remaining honor of the firstborn son.
I remember the first time I prayed a blessing over my firstborn. I guess she was around three years old. We had read our nightly Bible story and I prayed for her. I hadn’t given it much thought, but the words seemed to roll off my tongue. When I finished, she looked up and said, “That was a blessing.” I affirmed her comment. Somehow, the next night I prayed the same thing.
Over the next few years, I prayed that blessing over her every night. When our son was born, I prayed the same blessing over him every night. As both children grew, I added a word or two that specifically applied to that child. It’s been a long time since I prayed their blessing over them, but I would bet they could say it with me without thinking about it.
Have your parents ever prayed a blessing over you? If they did, how blessed did you feel? If your parents didn’t pray a blessing over you and either parent is still alive, why not ask them to pray about it and then pray a special blessing over you now?
If you are a parent, have you ever prayed a blessing over your children? Why or why not? Even though we live in a different time and culture from today’s Bible reading, a parental blessing is still very important.
Special blessings don’t have to be very long. They don’t have to be complicated or full of flowery words. A blessing is just speaking encouraging words from the heart. If you need an idea, here’s the blessing I prayed over my kids at bedtime.
May the God of grace and peace, and mercy and love, protection and provision watch over you and keep you safe.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
This devotional was originally published on January 13, 2021.