Psalms of Ascent: 128

1   Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
2   You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

3   Your wife will be like a fruitful vine/within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4   Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.

5   The Lord bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
6   May you see your children's children!
Peace be upon Israel!

Psalm 128 is a direct continuation of 127. Both are wisdom psalms about the blessings and importance of family. But while last week’s study was about building a family, this week’s is about sustaining one. Its central message is this: Obedience to the Lord leads to blessing in the family. When we walk in the ways of God, abide in him and obey his commandments, the natural outpouring of that is flourishing in our families and communities.

This isn’t an earned reward from God for good behavior. We don’t have to earn God’s love or favor. God gave us his law because it’s the best way to live in harmony with one another. Loving your neighbor, refraining from sexual immorality, being slow to anger, teaching children about Jesus, and all the rest of God’s commands benefit not just your nuclear family, but the whole family of God. So what do God’s blessings look like in the family practically? This passage shows us 4 things:

  • Joy in our work - When we work for God's eternal Kingdom and not for vanity, we will enjoy the fruits of our labor.
  • Fruitful wives - When we treat our spouses with love, kindness, and godly work, they will be fruitful in affection, helpfulness, love, and children.
  • Generational obedience - When we live godly lives and teach our children how to do the same, obedience and blessing will continue for generations to come.
  • National prosperity - If the people in a nation are living their lives in a way that honors God, and their children are participating in obedience, then the whole community will feel this blessing.

A disclaimer of sorts for this study: the genre of wisdom literature isn’t meant to be universally true for everyone’s specific situation. This wisdom is true in broad strokes. Psalm 128 is meant to be the ideal. The reality of our lives won’t always feel like this no matter how obedient we are.

Spouses are not perfect and will make mistakes. Children may stray away from God even if we train them correctly. That doesn’t mean our souls are in danger or God isn’t faithful. It means that life is complicated and we can’t always change the situation we’re in. But we can choose to be obedient despite our circumstances. We can choose to love and disciple our families and our church. In Christ’s power, we can walk in the ways of God, and that will always be a blessing to us.