A Biblical Description of Blessings is not a Biblical Prescription for Blessings

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Picture of a prescription bottle  with pills spilled out

Psalm 1 from today’s Bible reading* describes the blessings of those who seek God and His ways.

How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
Psalm 1:1–3 (CSB)

We need to be careful that when we read and study the Bible we don’t confuse description with prescription. A description describes things as they are while a prescription prescribes things in the way they should be. In other words, don’t confuse a description of blessings with a promise for blessings.

It would be easy to look at Psalm 1:1-3 and think that if I do these things, God will bless me. The underlying assumption is that God is obligated to bless me if I do xyz.

Let me say this as clearly as I can: God is not your cosmic genie. You don’t get to manipulate Him because you do something for him. And you don’t get to manipulate Him because you obey Him.


When you read the Bible, ask how the verses were intended to be understood by its original hearers. In this case, were they intended as a promise that if you do these things, then God will definitely bless you? Or, are these verses describing what is generally true of the blessings that follow those people who delight in God’s Word and meditate on it?

Don’t read things into the Bible text that aren’t there. Let God be God. Let Him explain His Word for you. If God gives a promise, claim the promise as it’s written. If God describes something, ask Him how that should describe your life.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
– 2 Samuel 7
– 1 Chronicles 17
– Psalms 1
– Psalms 2
– Psalms 33
– Psalms 127
– Psalms 132

This devotional was originally published on April 30, 2021.

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