God, Bless America

Happy is the nation whose God is Yahweh-- the people He has chosen to be His own possession!

May God be gracious to us and bless us;
Look on us with favor

So that Your way may be known on earth,
Your salvation among all nations.
Let the peoples praise You, God;
Let all the peoples praise You.
Let the nations rejoice and shout for joy,
For You judge the peoples with fairness
And lead the nations on earth.

Let the peoples praise You, God,
Let all the peoples praise You.

The earth has produced its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us.
God will bless us,
And all the ends of the earth will fear Him.
-Psalm 33:12, Psalm 67

I woke up, with the song, "God, bless America", singing through my heart. The song is actually a prayer, written by a Jewish American immigrant named Irving Berlin. A high percentage of Americans (United States of Americans) know this song and it gets sung by everyday people in our country quite often.

We have many other patriotic songs like "This Is My Country", "The Star Spangled Banner" and "This Land Is Your Land". Patriotism is about loving your country. We even pledge our allegiance to the flag.

I love America, or rather the values, like freedom and liberty; and the gift of America, and the people of America, and the all the lands of America. But I pledge my first allegiance to Christ, to God and to his cause. I see my pledge of allegiance and the pledge of allegiance to America as just that, a promise of loyalty and it is re-made often.  It is not worship or a covenant, but about loyalty to all the states and all the people therein, together.

If you wonder about conflating scriptures with patriotic love for America, I do too, and let me explain. The nation that God blesses, in scripture, is the nation of believers. And believers are defined as people who obey God.

Can God bless nations, like Peru, Australia or Czechoslovakia?  Yes.  Does God bless sin?  No.  Does God love people who are sinners?  Yes.

In America, which is my country, we have a nation of believers within the nation of the USA.  But God also made nations and sees nations, with boundaries and borders.

There is a lot of instruction about God's blessing, in the book of Deuteronomy. In a nut-shell, when you do right, God blesses you; and if you do wrong, God not only can not bless you, but you become cursed. But despite all the laws, being a believer has never been about legalism.

We are not saved or put into salvation by doing good. The Old and New Testaments do not teach that. The whole Bible rather teaches, that if you are saved you will do good. This is why Jesus said that the greatest command, on which the whole written word hangs, is loving God with all your being.

And the lawyers who persecuted Jesus, who claimed to know that whole written opus, did not have love, so they got the whole thing wrong. Just like we might do today, they might have conflated nationalism, patriotism, and there way-ism with loving God and receiving God's blessing.

When we say and sing, "God bless America", we had better know that God can not bless sin, but loves sinners. God is so merciful, that he can and does bless people all the time, who either ignorantly or disobediently do not love him. The blessing may be a blessing in disguise.

Here are the words to the song, by Irving Berlin, and it is the newer, 1938 version, with the introductory words, that we do not often hear or remember:

While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free.
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer:

God bless America, land that I love,
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans white with foam,
God bless America, my home sweet home.
God bless America, my home sweet home.