Right before he died, Moses gave a blessing to each tribe of Israel (Deuteronomy 33).
I’m not sure what avenue he used to do this – did he speak the blessings or write them down? Did he communicate them to some large general assembly or to just a select group of leaders? Did each tribe have representatives present to receive the blessings, or did they have to wait to learn of their blessings via the Israeli Postal Service?
Regardless, one of the shorter blessings caught my eye today.
Deuteronomy 33:12 reads, “About [the tribe of] Benjamin [Moses] said: ‘Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.'”
While this gem was initially written to Benjamin, it is not an applicational stretch to say it was (secondarily) written to you and me, too.
Why isn’t it a stretch?
Because a) you and I and all followers of Christ are the modern day “beloved[s] of the Lord”, and b) God does not change.
God loves us, ergo, we are His beloved. That one’s easy to see, right? We are “the one[s] the Lord loves”, and, as such, we can “rest secure in him”. Other translations read “dwell in safety by him”. Both renditions carry within them a sense of transcendent peace that can quiet an anxious soul with His presence…if we let it.
Why can we rest secure in Him?
Because our unchanging God shields His beloved – us – all day long. Not part of the day, all day. He doesn’t take a lunch break or get distracted by His Twitter feed from time to time. No, all day He actively shields you and me.
What does He shield us from?
All manner of that which is not in our best interest (Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11).
How does He do this? I think He protects us by putting us at “rest between his shoulders”.
What in the world does that mean?
I didn’t know, so I asked some old guys (i.e., free online commentaries written by now deceased gentlemen). Jameison, Fausset, and Brown, and Matthew Henry both give a geographical explanation for what is meant by “rest between his shoulders” that you probably aren’t interested in. Essentially, as I understand it, the Temple God inhabited was built on Mt. Moriah, which lay within Benjamin’s borders. The correlating imagery, then, is that the Temple itself represented God’s head and the mountain represented His shoulders. More to the point, the people of Benjamin literally “dwel[t] in safety by [God]”, in the shadow of the mountain (or of His metaphorical shoulders, if you prefer), which is just a fancy way of saying they dwelt under His holy protection.
So it is with us. As we – “the one[s] the Lord loves” – “rest between his shoulders”, it just means that He is protecting us from all manner of that which is not in our best interest.
So we got that going for us…which is nice.
I love this blessing for a couple of reasons.
The first is I just love the Hebrew concept of the patriarch speaking a blessing over his children. Fathers were supposed to speak life-giving words to their first-borns (although, as a second-born myself, I do believe I would’ve pulled a Jacob and snatched that blessing right out my brother’s ears and my dad’s mouth, but that’s a different post entirely). Verbally blessing their children was a normal thing back then. And while I am sure it didn’t go down how I like to picture it – a warm, sentimental moment during which the father cupped his son’s face in his hands and spoke full-bodied words of love and affirmation – the fact that it went down at all makes my heart smile.
But I love this blessing in Deuteronomy in particular because it’s an invitation for me to rest secure in my heavenly Father’s presence. As the Holy Spirit speaks to me through this scripture, it’s even better than a patriarch’s blessing; it’s a blessing from the Lord Himself.
And He’s saying it to you, too. He’s cupping your face in a warm, sentimental moment and saying, “Rest secure in Me, for I shield you all day long, and you rest between My shoulders.”