What Does It Mean to Bless My Children?

Throughout the Bible, parents would bless their children.  Have you ever wondered how a parent is supposed to give what is called a biblical blessing?

“As heavenly Father, God set up a pattern of blessing for His people: verbally affirming His acceptance and support of them, painting vivid pictures of their expected future, and investing Himself and His resources to make His words a reality.”  –The Love Dare for Parents, Day 33

Here are some blessings contained in the Bible from parents to children:

  • Jacob Blesses Judah: Judah, your brothers will praise you.  Your hand will be on the necks of your enemies; your father’s sons will bow down to you.  Judah is a young lion – my son, you return from the kill – he crouches; he lies down like the lion and like a lioness – who wants to rouse him?  The scepter will not depart from Judah, or the staff from between his feet, until He whose right it comes and the obedience of the peoples belong to Him. –Gen. 49:8-10
  • Issac Blesses Jacob & Esau: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.  -Heb. 11:20
  • David Blesses Solomon: Now, my son, may the LORD be with you, and may you succeed in building the house of the LORD your God, as He said about you.  Above all, may the LORD give you insight and understanding when He puts you in charge of Israel so that you may keep the law of the LORD your God.  -1 Chron. 22:11-12
  • God Blesses Jesus: While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said: “This is My beloved Son.  I take delight in Him.  Listen to Him!”  -Matt. 17:5

A Well-Informed Blessing

“By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and, he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff” (Heb. 11:21).

Jacob provides the most descriptive example in Scripture of a father blessing his children.  Nearing his death, he gathered his family together and pronounced a blessing upon each of his sons and also his grandsons who were fathered by Joseph.  In this time, men would bless others by prophesying over them concerning future blessings.  This could include praying to God on behalf of the person they were blessing.

Most of the time, the future blessing was given in regards to past behavior.

Oftentimes, a faithful son received a promising blessing.  An ungodly son received a dreadful blessing.

As a father gathered the family together to pronounce blessings, positive and negative moments were relived.  In the case of Jacob, he reminded Reuben of his sexual immorality (Gen. 49:3), and Simeon and Levi of their violent anger (Gen. 49:5-7).  On the other extreme, he praised Joseph for his fruitfulness and steadiness (Gen. 49:22-24).  With these verbal blessings, a gift of land was distributed.  The weight of these blessings was felt deeply in that the prophecy surpassed the life of the son and also carried through the son’s descendants.

Prophecy is sometimes foretelling of the future, but it is more frequently a truth-telling of the future.

While biblical prophecy occasionally ventured into set days or events, the prophets usually presented messages like a parent would deliver a message to a child.  “If you continue to do this, your future will look like that.”  “If you don’t stop, I’m going to have to discipline you.”  Prophecy usually spoke concerning the natural progression of a person or people concerning their obedience or lack thereof.

Apply that to Jacob’s blessing and we can understand a little more clearly.  Simeon was a violent man.  Jacob saw that in his son and prophesied that violence was in his future (Gen. 49:7).  This specific prophecy had more to do with discernment than it did fortune-telling.

Words & Gifts

From Jacob’s example, we learn that parents are to bless children with their appropriate words and with their appropriate gifts.

  • Appropriate Words. Blessing a child with appropriate words means telling the truth.  “Whoever speaks the truth declares what is right, but a false witness, deceit” (Prov. 12:17).  Parents are not to enable children for continual disobedience.  If your children are walking down a path that leads to destruction, the best blessing you can give them is to tell them of looming danger (Prov. 3:12).  “A foolish son is his father’s ruin” (Prov. 19:13).  On the other extreme, for children who are walking faithfully in the Lord, they are to be praised with blessings from their parents (Prov. 10:1).
  • Appropriate Gifts. Jacob was known for playing favorites with his sons.  While his extreme favoritism with Joseph caused significant family drama (Gen. 37:3-4), Jacob still resolved to give gifts of land to his sons in a way he deemed appropriate.  Normally, the more trustworthy the son, the more generous the gift.  Jacob had experienced the graciousness of God’s provision so much that he did not want to see it thrown away by unreliable sons.

Have you ever thought about what kind of blessings your children need to receive from you?

Travis Agnew is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. He serves as the Senior Pastor of Rocky Creek Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is What God Has Joined Together.