On Blessing the Lord – And Enjoying Him

The blessings of God and our enjoyment of him:

Since I am once again reading through the book of Psalms, I keep coming across a phrase that is found there that is quite familiar to us. It has to do with blessing the Lord. The phrase is found in other biblical books, but it crops up now and then in the Psalms. Here are some examples that I recently read:

Psalm 96:1-3 Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
    sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
    tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
    his marvelous works among all the peoples!

Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

Psalm 103:1-2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,

Psalm 104:1 Bless the Lord, O my soul!
    O Lord my God, you are very great!
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,

But it is not just us who can bless the Lord. Consider Psalm 103:20-22

Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Again, this is a well-known phrase, yet it still can raise some questions – at least for me. That is, we all know about God blessing us and what that means: he bestows on us or grants to us or offers us that which is for our good, that which benefits us, that which enriches us, and that which makes us better or better off.

But since God is God, how can he in any way become better or better off or enriched? How can he increase in any way as a result of us blessing him? It would appear that while we cannot contribute anything to God, while we cannot in any way enlarge him or make him greater and more glorious, we can simply praise him and give thanks to him.

That seems to be what these verses are all about. As God blesses us, all we can do is give thanks and worship him for his goodness, his kindness, and his graciousness. We do not do this to make him any better than he already is, but to acknowledge who he is and to give thanks for all his many benefits and blessings.

And that makes sense of course. If someone comes up to you and gives you a large sum of money, your normal reaction would be one of deep gratitude and praise. The great gift makes you want to thank the gift giver. Giving praise and thanks in such situations is fully normal.

John Piper put it this way in an article he had penned back in 1978:

Other analogies, though not exact, would be our expressions like: “I magnify the Lord” or “Let us exalt his name.” Both of these expressions properly recognize and give joyful expression to God’s magnificence and his exalted status. They do not mean that we make God larger or higher. So to bless God means to recognize his great richness, strength, and gracious bounty and to express our gratitude and delight in seeing and experiencing it. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-does-it-mean-to-bless-god

“Christian hedonism”

Here I want to go further with Piper, and briefly discuss something he has long promoted, but at times is quite misunderstood about. I refer to what he calls “Christian hedonism”. Some Christians balk at the phrase and the very idea, but his intention seems to me to be fully biblical.

Image of Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist
Desiring God, Revised Edition: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by Piper, John (Author) Amazon logo

I happen to have 38 of his books, and he has discussed this idea in so many of them, including Desiring God (1986, 2011), God’s Passion For His Glory (1998), and The Pleasures of God (1991, 1998). One can turn to those and other volumes of his and get a full account of what he is trying to say, but a few quotes from one of his articles offers us a nice summary of what he is trying to get at here. He begins this way:

Over the years the name that I have given to my understanding of the massive role joy plays not only in the Christian life, but in all of creation and God’s purposes in it — is Christian Hedonism. And the shortest description of Christian Hedonism is God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.


My pathway into this understanding over the last thirty years or so is mainly affected by Jonathan Edwards, C. S. Lewis, and the apostle Paul, but it does reach back to my father. My father was probably the happiest man I have ever known, and yet he was filled and consumed with the glory of God. So there was this both-and in my father’s life that had to have a resolution or explanation some day. Abundant joy and total commitment to the glory of God had to go together in some way.


After my dad, C. S. Lewis came into the picture with his amazing statement that our problem as human beings is not that our desires are too strong, but that our desires are too weak. I thought my desires were the problem. Lewis says, No, your desires aren’t the problem. The weakness of your desires are the problem. You are like a child fooling about in slums with your mud pies because you can’t imagine what a holiday at the sea is like. In other words, your desires for the great things that God is offering you are way too small. Your problem is not big desires, but small desires for big things.


Jonathan Edwards was the biggest influence of all. He says that God almighty in his trinitarian form is God the Father having an idea of himself which stands forth in God the Son, and having delight in himself, which stands forth in God the Holy Spirit surging back and forth as a person between the Father and the Son. Then, when God creates human beings, they are in his image so that we glorify God both by having a right idea of him — true doctrine — and by having appropriate, passionate emotions toward him. So I have these two great surging faculties in me: a thinking faculty that glorifies God by thinking rightly about him, and a feeling faculty that glorifies God by feeling rightly about him.


And under all of that was the Bible, which tells us again and again to glorify God, and also tells us again and again to delight in God. So how do those two commands come together?


That question led me to the Westminster Catechism, and its first question: What is man’s chief end? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. And I ponder: Is it just and? What does “and” mean? Isn’t the chief end of man to glorify God by enjoying him forever? That’s what Edwards said. That’s what Lewis implied. That seemed to be what was surging in my father’s life. But is it biblical?

He goes on to discuss Philippians 1:19-26, and then concludes this way:

So, as an illustration: It’s my anniversary. I say to Noel, “I am going to take you out tonight, because it is our 47th anniversary, and spending the night with you would make me really happy.”


No wife has ever said, nor would Noel ever say, “You are so selfish. All you think about is yourself. It makes you happy taking me out and spending the evening with me.” No wife ever complains that is selfish. Why? Because if I pursue my full satisfaction in my wife, she is honored. So it is with God. If we are drawn to God because we want to spend time with God, if God is our treasure and our satisfaction, God is honored.


This truth — God is most glorified in us, or Christ is most magnified in us, when we are most satisfied him — is not peripheral. This is not peripheral to the Christian life or peripheral to the book of Philippians. This is right at the heart of what it means to be a believer, what it means to belong to Jesus Christ, what it means to treasure and trust Jesus Christ. This is not icing on the cake of Christianity. This is at the heart of Christianity. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/what-is-christian-hedonism

For those who might demur, as I say, reading some of his books, or at least reading his full article here, would be a good place to begin, before going on a theological rampage!

But in the meantime: Bless the Lord, oh my soul.

[1482 words]

2 Replies to “On Blessing the Lord – And Enjoying Him”

  1. Wow, Bill. This threw me back to my little room under the stairs, where as a 16yo boarder at school, I was on my knees by my bed.

    I was overwhelmed by God’s presence.

    So much so that I cried out in frustration, “Oh Lord, I so wish that somehow, mere me could bless YOU!”

    I think that ‘frustration’ will always be there. Its like the deer of Ps 42.43, longing for water. Will we EVER be able to Bless God enough?!

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