Psalm 128

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 11, 2019 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord.
May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. May you live to see your children’s children—peace be on Israel.” (Psalm 128)

Psalm 128 is another of the psalms of ascent that I mentioned last week, which were often read in connection with ascending to the temple in Jerusalem. It is a psalm of blessing, specifically relating to the blessing of family.

Verse 1 starts out with general words of wisdom: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.” We see that the fear of God brings us blessings. That word “fear” has multiple meanings. It does mean that we should be afraid of God because He is the all-powerful creator and we are merely His creations. But it also means to have reverence or awe for God, again because He is God and we are not. We need to both be afraid of how He can punish us if we don’t walk in His ways, and we need to be in awe of His might and power. Because of this fear, we should walk in His ways.

If we do what verse 1 suggests and walk in obedience to God, then “blessings and prosperity will be yours” (verse 2). That doesn’t mean we’ll be immensely wealthy with the things of this world, but it refers to blessings and prosperity from God. That’s often not the same as being prosperous with material wealth and things. And, this doesn’t mean that blessings will simply be handed to you without you having to do anything. On the contrary, it says that “You will eat the fruit of your labor.” Your hard work will be rewarded, but we do still need to work to do what God is calling us to do.

Verses 3-4 provide many images of the blessing of a family. The man who works well at his labor will be blessed with wife and children, which was a sign of prosperity in Biblical times. To our ears, it may sound weird to compare kids to olive shoots, but that’s simply a cultural difference. Most olive trees do not bear fruit until around 5 years after they were planted and they may not bear fruit after 40 years, but they are still considered to be a symbol of longevity and productivity. They bear their fruit in due time, just as teaching children will bear fruit for generations to come.

In verses 5-6, we see that these blessings we receive from God are not just for a short time but for all the days of our lives on earth. In the days of this psalm being written, people often didn’t live as long as they do today, so being able to live long enough to see your grandchildren was a huge blessing.

The city of Jerusalem was (and is) of great concern to the nation of Israel. People of Israel would not only be concerned with the circumstances of their own lives and family but also with the status of Jerusalem, if the city was prospering and being properly defended from outside enemies. In Old Testament times, it was believed that God’s presence lived in the temple in Jerusalem, so this was a very precious site. Having God on your heart and mind also meant being concerned for Jerusalem, the place where God dwelled.

Jerusalem was also the center for their government and where the king of Israel would live. If a Godly king was ruling in Jerusalem, then they knew that the whole nation would be blessed by that king’s good actions. Even if a person was not in Jerusalem, having peace in Jerusalem would mean peace for the rest of the nation.

But what about for us, as many Christians today are Gentiles and not Jewish? Should we still care about Jerusalem and what’s happening there? I believe the answer is yes, as we should care for all of God’s people - both those who follow Him and those who do not. We should desire all people to come to saving faith in Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection as 1 Timothy 2:1-4 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Are you walking in obedience to God’s ways in your life? Where might you be struggling to obey what God has commanded you? What blessings do you see in your life that are a direct result of following what God desires for you? I encourage you to think about these questions as you go about your week.

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