Yes, you can BLESS God

Yes, you can BLESS God

Our inclination towards linguistic prescriptivism is why we continue to have problems in using the English language. I have a few friends ignorantly sharing the image attached to this post and I think it is necessary to make it known that there is nothing wrong with the expression: ‘I bless God’.

Like the young man in the photo, many Nigerians seem to understand the meaning of ‘to bless’ as ‘to sanctify’ or ‘invoke divine favour upon somebody or something’. But ‘to bless’ can also mean ‘to honour as holy’, ‘glorify, extol or praise’. So when someone says ‘I bless God’, what is implied is that he/she extols, glorifies, thanks, or appreciates God. The person does not mean that she/he is invoking divine protection upon God.

Some Nigerians are even online saying the expression is not a decade old and it is a very Nigerian expression. Well, there is an example from the King James Bible which you can verify for yourselves:

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,… (Psalm 103)

In the NIV, the word ‘bless’ was replaced with ‘praise’ from what I found online:

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. who satisfies your desires with good things…

What this should tell any discerning reader is that the word ‘bless’ shares very close meaning with ‘praise’ in this context of application. I have heard people saying ‘I thank the Lord’, ‘I praise God’, ‘I glorify the Lord’ in answer to greetings with the question: ‘How are you?’ just as we Muslims are wont to answer with ‘Alhamdulilah’ (I give all praise to Allah) when asked the same question and I have not heard anyone say these expressions are wrong or that it is improper to answer greetings in such manner. So, why should ‘I bless God’ be wrong?

Also while it may be archaic, the expression ‘I bless God’ is not peculiarly Nigerian in meaning or etymology.

Word meanings in English are not so straitlaced that they should mean one thing and only that one meaning alone. Always endeavour to explore other ways in which words may be exploited to perform different functions or give different meaning before diving into arguments.

So please, go on and keep blessing the Lord.