A benediction is a pronouncement of divine blessing and encouragement. It is a short, concise statement which gives assurance or promise. It is from the Latin bene (good) dicere (to say). Every time I say a benediction over my congregation, I am not leading them in prayer, but blessing them with a good word for their spiritual encouragement.
One of the most famous benedictions in the Bible is one that God gave to Moses to tell Aaron to speak to Israel (follow that?). It was given to be a general encouragement to the nation as the Law of God was being explained and the Tabernacle of the Lord was being dedicated: “The Lord bless you, and keep you: The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you: The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
My personal favorite biblical benediction is found at the end of Jude and spoken to people who were being called to persevere in their faith: “Now unto him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen” (Jude 1:24, 25).
I have heard some use Genesis 31:49 as a benediction; “The Lord watch between you and me, when we are parted from each other.” However, if you check the context, you will find that this was a covenant warning made between Laban and Jacob who did not trust each other; calling for God to be a witness so that they would not continue to harm each other. Therefore, don’t use that one, but check out and meditate on some of these: 2 Corinthians 13:14; Hebrews 13:20, 21; 2 Peter 1:2, 3; 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13, 5:23; Romans 15:5, 6, and 13.
There is one more use of benediction we don’t often hear about because it is mostly spoken outside a church service. It is a benediction used in our personal relationships. “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad” (Proverbs 12:25). We know the power of hurtful words. “Rash words are like sword thrusts” (Prov. 12:18) and yet a good word has healing power. “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Prov. 16:24). Many of us were raised with hurtful words, which have wounded us and made our words hurtful to others. Many of us have experienced being the target of cutting and spiteful words, which have weighed us down and discouraged us beyond measure. O for just one good word spoken in truth! “To make and appropriate answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” (Prov. 15:23)
This week someone hurt me with their words, but on the same day someone else spoke an appropriate word that brought great encouragement to me. We all need to experience the power of benediction; a good word that is truthful, sincere, and with no ulterior motive other than to encourage. What a great ministry! Try it, and start in your own household.