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Psalm 128 Blessings of Those who Fear the Lord

There are great blessings for those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways and if someone trusts in the Lord, they will be doers as well as hearers of the word of God. At the great feasts, whole families gathered in Jerusalem, so it is no surprise that some of the songs of ascents emphasise domestic life,[i] (cf. Psalm 127:3-5). If the home is to be peaceful, there must be a reverential fear of God and an obedience to Him and His word. Hence happiness in home life is rooted in the fear of the Lord.

Blessings for the family

The resultant blessings of both the fear of the Lord and walking in His ways, is paralleled in Proverbs 9:10-11, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For by Me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.” This also ties in with the penultimate line of this psalm, “may you see your children’s children.”

The unnamed psalmist speaks of eating the labour of their hands and it shall be well with you. This may well allude to enjoying the fruits of labour at the feasts themselves, but we must also remember the specific theocratic blessings and cursing for Israel dependent upon obedience or disobedience to the Lord. Deuteronomy 28:4 states, “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.”

It is good to say grace and give thanks at mealtimes and if a man leads his family well by fearing the Lord and walking in the ways of the Lord, it will be a blessing to his family and enable them to flourish. The wife is likened to a fruitful vine in the very heart of the house and the children compared with olive plants all around the table. The agricultural imagery is obvious in that godliness enables the family to prosper and to be peaceful.

Sadly today, often households are characterized by chaos and mealtimes are inharmonious, the family is not sat down at rest and in peace and there is squabbling and lack of order. Peace with God precedes lasting peace in the home. In Psalm 52:8, David contrasts the end of the wicked and the peace of the godly and states, “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever.”

Similarly David prays in Psalm 144:11-15, Rescue me and deliver me from the hand of foreigners,
Whose mouth speaks lying words, And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood—
 That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; That our daughters may be as pillars,
Sculptured in palace style;That our barns may be full, Supplying all kinds of produce;
That our sheep may bring forth thousands And ten thousands in our fields; That our oxen may be well laden; That there be no breaking in or going out; That there be no outcry in our streets.
 Happy are the people who are in such a state; Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!

There is a hope to see one’s grandchildren. Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) enjoyed being reunited with Joseph and even seeing his offspring (Genesis 48:11), Joseph saw his grandchildren (Genesis 50:23) and Job saw his children and grandchildren for four generations (Job 42:16). If in the natural sense children and grandchildren are a blessing, how much more should we train and admonish them in the ways of the Lord and examine our hearts, to help us walk in the Lord’s ways that it may go well with us and that our offspring may flourish?

Peace be upon Israel!

Several interpreters see future blessings pertaining to Jerusalem and the festivals outlined in this psalm. To cite just a few, Jamiesson, Fausett and Brown consider Zechariah 8 a commentary on this psalm[ii]relating to millennial blessings[iii] and Gentiles shall seek the religious privileges of Jewish people.[iv]MacDonald mentions, “The Psalm joyfully anticipates the future blessedness of the individual and nation when Israel’s king returns and reigns in righteousness.”[v]

The psalmist seeks the good of Jerusalem for all the days of your life. We should seek to bless Zion, the land of Israel and the Jewish people and keep in mind that those who bless Abraham’s descendants, the Lord will bless (Genesis 12:3). The greatest blessing to Israel is also a blessing to the whole world through Jesus the Messiah (Genesis 12:3; Matthew 1:1). We can also support Jewish people by praying for the peace of Israel (Psalm 128:6; cf. Psalm 125:5) and the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6) and giving to charities that will benefit Jewish people.

Some commentators connect the first line of verse 5, “The Lord bless you out of Zion’ and the closing line of verse 6, “Peace be upon Israel!” with the Aaronic blessing in Numbers 6:24-26. This is the last psalm in this section of three songs of ascent and perhaps now more than ever we are reminded to pray for and stand with Israel and remember, trust and follow, the God of Israel.

[i] John F. Walvoord & Roy B. Zuck The Bible Knowledge Commentary An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Theological Seminary Old Testament (Victor, 1989; USA), P886

[ii]  Jamiesson, Fausett & Brown’s Commentary on the whole Bible (Zondervan, 1961; Grand Rapids), p454

[iii] Ibid, p855

[iv] Ibid, p857

[v] William MacDonald Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 1995; Nashville), p757