Blessed are all who fear the Lord
May the Lord bless you from Zion (Psalm 128:1,5).
This psalm has created anxiety for many saints. Thrust in my face it has been accompanied by questions such as, “What did I do to cause my children to turn their backs on me?” or “Why won’t God bless me?” Since I’m the pastor, I’m supposed to know the answer.
Well, I can’t solve their family issues, but I am often able to help them spiritually. At least, set them on a better road.
On the surface, Psalm 128 reads as if all who obey the Lord will be blessed with wholesome family life and a full table. But that is not really the point.
In recent weeks I have mentioned some things that our necessary for reading the Scriptures well. I mentioned that we need some imagination and that we need to understand the context of our passage.
This psalm suggests something more. We need to know what we are reading. I mean that we need to know the kind of literature we are reading. Let me explain. We read poetry different than we read prose. We read a historical novel differently than we read a history textbook.
Psalm 128 was classified by the Jewish people as part of their wisdom literature. Thus, it is like the book of Proverbs. A proverb, even today, is not understood to be a rule or promise; rather, it is something that is often true. They are patterns that have been observed by people.
Which brings me back to my pastoral issue. People generally feel better when they realize that family troubles do not mean that God is against them or that they committed some great sin that God is punishing them for. But realizing this does not remove or fix their troubled families.
This psalm is a combination of proverb and blessing. One of the best ways to understand this psalm is to read it in light of Genesis 3 and 4. In those chapters the Bible illustrates that the result of human sin is both difficulty in securing enough food and dysfunction in family relationships.
How do we overcome these difficulties? The first answer is “We cannot.” There is nothing we can do to over come the curse of sin. The cure is not our work but the blessing of God. This psalm highlights to of the most basic blessing: sufficient food and family health. The ultimate divine blessing comes in and through Jesus Christ and His ministry of redemption and reconciliation.
But living in the blessing of God calls forth from us faithful living. Those who fear the Lord often experience not just the spiritual blessings of redemption but the physical ones as well. Those who fear the Lord will not see these blessings as a reward of their hard work but as a gift from God.
Your Friend & God’s Friend,
- Psalm 128:1,5
- Psalm 128
- Genesis 3
- Genesis 4
- 2 Thessalonians 3
- Luke 12
- Proverbs 11