Numbers 6:22-27 (Part 3) – Southern Women and the Biblical Truth of “Bless Your Heart!”

Posted: July 19, 2016 in 04-Numbers
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Numbers 6:22-27 (Part 3)

The Priestly Blessing

In the Southern vernacular, when a woman says, “bless your heart”, one might think that “Ah, what a sweet lady! She just ask that my heart be blessed!” Wrong! It is the genteel, Southern female way of calling you an idiot, my friend. It’s like “What an idiot! I guess he cannot help how incredibly stupid he is, so bless his little heart.” In a way, though, I guess it is a sweet saying. Southern women are asking the Lord to protect the idiot and give them favor regardless of how dumb that person is. I love my native region of the South. Even though the region is becoming increasingly more like the Best Buy/Wal-Mart/big box generic rest of the country, there are still things about that are unique about the South that make us different, both black and white, from the rest of the country. The politeness is certainly one of them. Instead of calling someone an idiot, we ask for God to bless or show favor to the stupid. “Bless your heart!” is both a request for favor and a polite derision. It’s “how can one person be so stupid” on the one hand and a bold request to God to protect the person who has displayed incredible stupidity. If a person has done an incredibly stupid thing or said something incredibly stupid, they are being told that they do indeed need special favor from God. With my corny and silly sense of humor, there are quite a few of the wonderful and beautiful ladies, my wife included, of LifeSong Church, that have said, “bless your heart” to me or they have used the shortened version, “bless it!”. I think Southern women use “bless it” as an even greatly incredulity over the stupidity shown. Instead of calling you a moron, they say, “bless it”. It means that “I am not sure that this person qualifies as having human intelligence so ‘bless it’ whatever it may be Lord!”


Our sweet, genteel Southern ladies are asking the Lord to bless the idiot as a mercy request. It is both a display of derision but a hope that God will take care of the idiot and keep him or her from harming themselves or being harmed. This is my homeland. It’s hot and humid! It’s different! It is wonderfully complex and simple! We have the most beautiful women in the country because being a lady still means something here. And, our women are treasure. “Bless your heart!” or “Bless it!” is a wonderful example of how grand our women are! To have that saying invoked over you, one is not sure whether to be thankful or upset. And that’s how our women want it. Leaving you guessing! You are and idiot but you deserve a special dose of favor and protection from God. It’s like the dumb dog who is too dumb to be useful for anything but you keep them around because you don’t want to see them get hurt or killed. When I do something incredibly stupid or say one of my corny jokes that seems like it came from a five year old, my wife will say “bless it!” She keeps me around so I won’t hurt myself or get run over by a car! LOL!


Even though there may be a lot humor surrounding the Southern female use of the phrase, “bless your heart”, there is some truth to the use of the word bless in that Southern phrase that is biblical. We are calling upon God to bless what we perceive as someone who does not, in our opinion, merit blessing on their own but need favor. Let us read through today’s passage and think of what “bless” really means here. Here, again, we read Numbers 6:22-27 once again for today:


22 The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:



“‘“The Lord bless you

    and keep you;


the Lord make his face shine on you

    and be gracious to you;


the Lord turn his face toward you

    and give you peace.”’


27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”


In this case, the word we translate into English as “bless” is the word, barak, in Hebrew. Not gonna go down the political road about the name of a certain US President. I will leave that one for your own mind to bandy about. We will limit ourselves to what barak means. In the Hebrew use of the world it can either mean to give adulation to God or it can also mean to bless man as a benefit from God. In the context of the Priestly Blessing, it is requesting a benefit from God. It is a request that God show benefit, show favor, to His people. We are then asking the Holy One, the Most High, Yahweh, to grant us favor. To show us favor through whatever means that God decides. Part of the meaning of this Hebrew word, barak (בָּרַךְ), is this idea of humbly seeking favor. There is a sense, when reading through the material in the lexicons and concordances, about the word that involves a kneeling, a beseeching, a humbly prostrated request. It is as if there is an asking for something that we do not deserve. It is a request for a special grant, a gift, like a pardon for a criminal who was caught in the act of committing a crime. We the undeserving are asking for that which we have no right, no leverage to deserve but are seeking favor from the Lord.


Isn’t that where we all stand before the Lord. We do not deserve His grace given us through Jesus Christ. We deserve hell. Our first sin makes us so impure before God that it excludes us from His presence forever. Pile onto that, a lifetime of repeated sinning in every area of life and we cannot leverage our way into heaven with any amount of good works. We are the prisoner who has been arrested right in the middle of committing the crime for which we deserve punishment. At the same time before the judge, our history of crimes (sins) is read off before the righteous judge. By all accounts we were not only caught in the act of one of our crimes but we also have a long history of criminal behavior (our sin nature). When that day comes for each of us, we will have no defense for our rap sheet. There will be ample evidence that we deserve our punishment (an eternity in hell separated from God where there is gnashing of teeth and burning of flesh and darkness and hopelessness eternally). We deserve that fate, each and every one of us. No amount of cute puppies offered up to God (good deeds) can make up for the ugliness of our rap sheet before the judge. Being a fair judge, we deserve for him to throw the book at us and condemn us to our fate in hell. Yet, there is a man who comes into the court room and says Father, “bless their heart”, yes, they are stupid idiots that do not deserve mercy, but because I love them I am willing to take their deserved punishment for them. There is a need for the punishment to be paid before the Judge. It is only equitable that it be so. Jesus offers to take our punishment for us. All we have to do is to bow down before Him and express our heartfelt thanks to Him for doing so and believing that He did so because He loves us so very much. Bless our hearts! We do not deserve this favor, but it is done. We are free from the judgment for our stupidities. We have been granted favor that is undeserved. Bow down and kneel before the One who took our punishment and set us free from our own idiocy.


So, you see, barak is seeking a blessing from a mighty God that we do not have the right to ask. We do so only in a sense of asking for a favor that we do not deserve. And, in His love for us, knowing full well we do not deserve, God grants us blessing. It is not too unlike the invocation of the “bless your heart” by a Southern woman. You may be an idiot that does not know how to get out of a shower of rain but yet a Southern woman is asking God to grant you favor and protection from your own stupidity. Bless your heart! Bless it! Man, that is what we need from God is not! We don’t deserve his favor but we need it anyway. It came in the form of Jesus Christ. Bless your heart! Bless my heart! God grant us favor even though we are idiots.


Amen and Amen.


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