What does the Bible say about favor?
Can I ask you a favor? We often say this, but could the word “favor” have more meaning than we realize? The online dictionary defines favor as “an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual.” Considering this definition, when we ask a favor, we’re potentially asking for an undeserved kindness. This definition is similar to how the Bible uses favor, but not exactly. So, what does the Bible say about favor, and what does it mean to us? Here are some thoughts that may interest you.
Christian quotes about favor
“Some people think that if they will do certain things, they will somehow earn the favor of God, but this misses the whole point of Christianity and ironically devolves into a me-centered approach.” David Platt
“Grace is the overflowing favor of God, and you can always count on it being available to draw upon as needed.” Oswald Chambers
“God always gives His best to those who leave the choice with him.” Jim Elliot
What is favor in the Bible?
In the Bible, the Hebrew word for favor is hesed. We don’t have an exact English word to translate hesed, but a close definition would be goodness, favor, mercy, kindness, and steadfast love.
Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield. (Psalm 5:12 NIV)
God’s favor is undeserved. He shows compassion and care for us undeserving and needy humans. In Scripture, we read how God grants his followers unique favor to people, often to accomplish his purposes in and through his followers.
Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel. (Daniel 1:9 NIV)
Psalms 84:11 “For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Ruth 2:2 “And Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, “Please let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after one in whose sight I may find favor.” And she said to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Psalm 30:5 “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning.”
Psalm 5:12 “Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Psalm 30:7 “LORD, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.”
Proverbs 19:12 “The king’s anger is like a lion’s roar, but his favor is like dew on the grass.”
Esther 5:8 “If the king regards me with favor and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come tomorrow to the banquet I will prepare for them. Then I will answer the king’s question.”
Finding favor with God
I want to begin by saying, you cannot manipulate God. You receiving favor with God does not start with yourself. It starts with Christ. Do you want favor with God? If so, repent and trust in Christ alone for salvation. You cannot work for favor; favor is given by His grace. Those who are trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of sins know the favor of God. Those who are taking advantage of their relationship with Christ through prayer and reading the Word, know the favor of God. Jesus died to have a relationship with you. He died and was resurrected from the grave to remove that sin barrier between you and the Father. Now you can enjoy Him and grow in knowing Him, that is God’s favor.
Believe and hold fast to the gospel! Remove sin and idols that hinder your relationship with Christ and live for Him because He has saved you by His grace. As you walk with the Lord intimately, you will grow in experiencing Him and His grace. His favor does not mean that you are going to be rich. His favor does not mean that you won’t go through suffering. However, with His favor you will have sweet fellowship with Him. With His favor, you will realize that the holy Creator of the universe is with you, and He hears you. With His favor, you will know His love in such a deep way. Surrender every area of your life to the Lord and watch what He does.
Here is an excerpt from the book “Experiencing Prayer with Jesus” that I love. “Jesus loved the Father and was loved by the Father! Therefore he confidently expected the Father to hear and answer His requests from a loving heart. And He knew that any and every answer from the Father would always be an expression of that love. Our Savior understood that everything the Father did in His life was out of a deep expression of love.”
Micah 6:7-8 (NIV) “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Ezra 8:22 (NASB) “For I was ashamed to request from the king troops and horsemen to protect us from the enemy on the way, because we had said to the king, “The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who abandon Him.”
Proverbs 8:35 (NIV) “For those who find me find life and receive favor from the Lord.”
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37 ESV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 ESV)
Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are those who keep His testimonies and seek Him with all their heart.”
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
Isaiah 66:2 (ESV) “All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
Proverbs 3:3-5 “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. 4 Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
James 1:17 “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”
Proverbs 12:2 “A good person will obtain favor from the Lord, But He will condemn a person who devises evil.”
Psalm 29:11 “The LORD gives His people strength; the LORD blesses His people with peace.”
Who did God favor in the Bible?
Many people in Scripture found favor in God’s eyes. Here are just a few examples.
Abraham-He was God’s friend.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23 NIV)
Enoch-Walked with God
After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived a total of 365 years. Enoch walked faithfully with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (Genesis 5:22-24 NIV)
Noah-He obeyed God.
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:8 NIV)
And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” (Exodus 33:17 ESV)
Exodus 33:12-14 “Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” 14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
David- A man after God’s heart
David, who enjoyed God’s favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. (Acts 7:46 NIV)
After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22 NIV)
Mary- She surrendered her life to God.
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. (Luke 1:28-30 ESV)
Mary (from Bethany, sister of Martha)-Deeply loved Jesus
Now, as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)
Promises of God about His divine favor
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11 ESV)
Throughout Scripture, we read about God’s promises of favor to his people. This is often described as his loving kindness, care, or mercy. Of course, the most obvious way we see God’s favor expressed is his favor towards us through the sending of his Son, Jesus. Philippians 2:6-11 (NIV) describes it best.
Who,[Jesus] being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The good news of Jesus should elicit a powerful response from us.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.(Romans 10:9-11 NIV)
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.(Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
Of course, it’s not our response that saves us; it’s God’s initiative. His favor and grace work on our hearts and minds to help us turn from our sins to follow him. We do nothing to deserve God’s hesed or favor.
Psalm 119:58 “I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.”
Praying for God’s favor
When we pray, we can ask God for his favor. Praying is a way to express our needs to God. As we pray, we can ask for his favor in
- Our life- Living a life that is pleasing to God, obeying him, and glorifying him with our words and actions.
- Our careers- Pray for God’s favor at your job. Ask him to help you be a good witness in your work ethic, your attitudes, and the way you speak to co-workers. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 ESV)
- Our family- Pray for God’s salvation for family members. Pray for them to open their eyes and hearts to the gospel. Prayers for healing and help in their lives.
- Our church- Pray for your pastors and spiritual leaders to be led by the Spirit and boldly teach the Biblical truth. Pray for the finances for church ministries and outreach. Pray for new leadership to be raised up as needed.
- Your friends and neighbors
Psalm 90:17 “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”
Psalm 5:12 (NKJV) “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.”
2 Kings 13:4 “Then Jehoahaz sought the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him, for he saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Syria oppressed them.”
Proverbs 16:15 (NASB) “In the light of a king’s face is life, And his favor is like a cloud with the spring rain.”
Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.”
Psalm 106:4 “Remember me, LORD, when you show favor to your people, come to my aid when you save them.”
Benefits of the favor of God
There are many benefits of favor with God. Here are just a few.
Having God’s favor brings us hope and joy- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NIV)
Peace in our lives- Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do. (Ecclesiastes 9:7 NIV)
Eternity with Christ-And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10 NIV)
A sense of purpose- For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 ESV)
2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Ephesians 2:7 (NIV) “in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
Psalm 5:12, (NKJV) “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”
Do you want the gift more than the Gift Giver?
Life is full. We get busy mowing the grass, running the kids to soccer practice, and having friends over. We often forget the one who gives us all these wonderful blessings. But when these things are threatened because one of our kids is diagnosed with a rare disease, or we lose our job, or a dear friend moves away, we suddenly become aware of the fragileness of our lives and how much we need God.
Spending daily time with God, reading Scripture, and praying keeps us anchored and focused on God. Scripture speaks to our hearts, corrects, encourages, and helps us stay close to God and know him better.
Also, if we’re not careful we can easily fall into the trap of desiring God’s earthly blessings over God himself. Ask yourself and be honest, do you want Jesus or self-promotion? Are you seeking favor for riches, popularity, and to satisfy your ego or above all else whether you live or die, you want Jesus to be glorified in and through your life? We can all struggle with the latter, but that should be the goal. We should want the world to know and experience the beauty of Christ. John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)
Matthew 15:8 “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
John 10:10 (ESV) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Examples of favor in the Bible
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17 NIV)
We see examples of God’s favor in people’s lives in two main ways.
God’s favor is shown in giving us eternal life.
God’s grace isn’t deserved. His favor isn’t earned by being a good person but freely given as a gift by God. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
The ability to follow and obey him.
Obeying God is also a gift. His grace helps us obey and follow him. God’s grace gives the ability to follow and obey. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11 NIV)
Luke 2:52, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”
2 Samuel 15:25 (KJV) “And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, and shew me both it, and his habitation.”
2 Samuel 15:25 “Then the king said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again.”
God bestows his favor on those he chooses. In the Old Testament, we read how God showed favor to people, many of them seemingly undeserving in our minds. God’s ways aren’t always ours, and his purposes are often accomplished through broken people and circumstances. A key characteristic of those he favored was their desire to follow and please him. Today, God wants us to follow him wholeheartedly and dedicate ourselves to serving and loving him.
Those who believe can rest assured that God’s favor has been given to us, not because of what we’ve done, but because of Jesus giving us his life as a ransom, paving the way for us to receive God’s favor.