Psalm 128 (Holman Christian Standard Version)
- How happy is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways!
- You will surely eat what your hands have worked for. You will be happy, and it will go well for you.
- Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house, your sons, like young olive trees around your table.
- In this very way the man who fears the LORD will be blessed.
- May the LORD bless you from Zion, so that you will see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life,
- and will see your children’s children! Peace be with Israel.
I learned two main things in this lesson.
1. God blesses those who revere Him and walk in His ways.
Right off the bat, Beth states:
Anybody who claims the Bible doesn’t say we’re blessed for obedience is out of their theological mind.
I don’t support a prosperity gospel that claims unwavering health and increasing wealth to all with enough faith. But I do believe that Scripture clearly portrays God as responding to obedience with blessing even today.
The Bible is full of scriptures that tell us God will bless us when we are obedient to Him. Luke 11:27 tells us that God’ blesses us when we hear and keep His Word. John 13:14-17 tells us that God blesses us for serving others. Romans 10:12 tells us that He blesses us when we call upon Him. I know that walking with God has resulted in blessings upon my life. A better financial situation, a stronger marriage, a better attitude, and hope and excitement for the future are just a few of the blessings I have received over the past few months as a result of seeking a closer walk with God.
The word translated “blessed” is the Hebrew word asher. It suggests both a condition (blessed) and a human reaction (happy). Beth points out that this doesn’t mean we won’t have difficulties or even sorrows. She points to Matthew 5:4, which says, “Blessed are those who mourn . . .” On the surface, this seems to be an oxymoron. It doesn’t make any sense. What she said next hit me right in the gut, because this is SO where I was almost a year ago, and what prompted me to really cultivate a relationship with my God.
Sometimes the circumstances of our suffering may not change, but the circumstances of our hearts are changed in the midst of them through a keen sense of God’s presence and a lively perception of His activity.
Blessedness describes the condition of a person who reveres God, steeps her life in Him, and follows His ways. She doesn’t just look to God in spiritual or religious matters. She looks to Him in every matter. He’s not just the most important part of her life. He is her life. The result of this divine invasion is that the life operates overall at optimum earth-satisfaction, joy, and purpose and without the crushing burdens of self-glory and sin. In other words, her life actually works.
To me, a life that “actually works” is one that is filled with joy despite difficult circumstances; one that looks forward to what is to come instead of always looking back to what was; one that sees the positives instead of the negatives. That is the life I want. That is the life I am promised if I revere the Lord and walk in His ways. Isaiah 33:6 tells us that the fear of the Lord is His treasure. He will bless our reverence because He wants a relationship with us more than anything. Why else would He have come to redeem us?
2. God’s ways are always right and His commands always have positive effects.
This psalm continues the theme of family in psalm 127. Beth points out that each psalm in the Psalms of Ascent builds on the previous one. She also shows us several comparisons between blessings to us under the New Covenant in light of these depicted in the Old Covenant.
- In Genesis 1:27-28, God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” – in other words, to bring life into the earth and populate it. In I Corinthians 15:45, Paul refers to Jesus as a life-giving spirit – by Him the kingdom of God is populated.
- In Genesis 15:5 and 17:6, God tells Abraham that He would give him many descendants and would make nations of him. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus gives His disciples, and therefore, us, the Great Commission – to go and make disciples of all nations.
- Psalm 128:3 describes the wife as a “fruitful vine” and the sons as “olive trees” – picture of growth and vitality, health – things that bear fruit. In John 15:1-8, Jesus calls Himself the true vine, and His disciples (and, hence, us) the branches. He states that God prunes the branches so that they will bear more fruit. Sometimes we have to go through bad things in order to be more effective for God. We have two choices. We can cut ourselves off and separate from the vine, or we can do as John 15:4 says, and “abide in the vine.” Branches can’t grow and bear fruit on their own. They have to get nourishment from the vine, even in times of drought. God is glorified when we bear fruit, just as the entire apple tree is appreciated, and not just the branch on which one apple grew. John 15:16 says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit.” We are commanded to be fruitful for the kingdom of God.
Now we come to another one of those times where God was smacking me in the face to try and get my attention. Okay, not really, but it sure felt that way. I have mentioned in previous blogs about studying something for this class only to have one of our pastors either talk about the same thing or use the exact same scripture. The morning of Sunday, September 14, our pastor’s sermon was titles “How the Kingdom is Lived in the Middle” and was on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. My notes on this sermon include the following:
- In general, we are all living in the time period between verses 18 and 19 – when the Master leaves and when He returns. More specifically, we, as individuals, live out this parable between when we become a Christian and when we die.
- God entrusts us with certain things. What do we do with that which we are entrusted?
- God owns it all. He has decided what we have. He had a plan and created each of us a certain way.
- God expects us to thank Him for our gifts AND for the way He has created us.
- We must seek to do His will with our lives and gifts, not just work for our good.
- God will evaluate us. We don’t know when this will be, but we will have to one day answer whether or not we have done good for Him in our lives.
- The point is not the amount of good we have done, the point is whether we have been faithful with and good stewards of that with which He has entrusted us.
- Am I using my gifts to advance the kingdom until Jesus returns? If He came back now, am I ready to give an account?
So I come home from church and am bopping along in the lesson on this psalm and I get to the part where Beth asks us to “read Christ’s parable in Luke 19:21-27. What is the point of this parable?”
So I flip over to Luke 19:21-27. And then I just about die laughing, because, really, the other option would have been to fall out of my chair. The title in my Bible? The Parable of the Minas.
It is the exact same parable recounted in Luke with Greek terminology.
I think I have this question covered. 😉 We are to use our gifts to further God’s kingdom.
The Great Commission is a COMMAND. I love how Beth puts it. It is not called The Great Permission, it is called The Great Commission.
Christ chose and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. He placed His Spirit within you the moment you received Him as Savior. He anointed you and equipped you with spiritual gifts. He means for you to use them with great effectiveness in the body of Christ. He has given you life experiences intended to turn into testimonies and ministries to help make the Savior irresistible to the seeker.
As Psalm 128 promises, your fear of the Lord and willingness to walk in obedience to this command will most assuredly result in blessing.
My Psalm 128:
Walking in the ways of God is what brings happiness. God will bless the work I do for Him. He will give me happiness and contentment. I will be productive within my household, and in His kingdom. My son will see my devotion to God and my work ethic, and will follow in my footsteps. I will be an effective witness to point others to my God. My God says I will be blessed this way!
May He send me blessings from on high, so that my family will have prosperity all of our days, and I will see my grandchildren following this same path! The work I do for my God will impact generations to come! Peace be with us!