Actions have consequences. When we read Psalm 128, it seems that productivity and a healthy family life flow from fearing or have reverence for the Lord. The psalmist invokes a blessing on those that fear the Lord and walk in his ways, pronouncing that:
“You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed and it shall be well with you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD” (Psalm 128:2-4).
This psalm is another of a group of psalms believed to have been sung by pilgrims on their way to feasts at the Temple in Jerusalem. The beginning of verse 5 refers to the Temple’s location on Mount Zion: “The Lord bless you from Zion!” With this phrase, the rest of the psalm unfolds not as a blanket guarantee of prosperity, but as a prayer offered with confidence for blessing upon those who walk according to the ways of the Lord.
“May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children! Peace be upon Israel!” (Psalm 128:5b-6)
This benediction, or prayer of blessing, asks that God will grant prosperity and peace to Israel, his people. It is a prayer that God will allow his worshippers to live long enough to see their grandchildren. It is a prayer for healthy relationships within the home, for a wife who is a “fruitful vine” and for children who surround their father’s table as young olive shoots surround the older tree from whose seed they have sprouted. The prayer speaks to God’s people as individuals, as families, and as a nation of worshippers. It is a call to worship, and to live, with reverence for God and with gratitude for the blessings he gives. The prayer also prays for the prosperity of God’s people and for an enduring peace for the place where those people gather to worship the Lord. Implicit within the prayer is awareness that judgment awaits those who scoff at the ways of God and who scorn those who believe.
- Quotations from the Bible are from the English Standard Version
O Lord, I pray that you will bless us who revere you as God and walk according to your ways. Grant us health and a long life filled with peace. Surround us with loving families who share our faith in you. Thank you for blessings that you give us. Sometimes we stumble, sometimes we grieve under the weight of unexpected loss. Open our eyes to grace and help us to discover paths to recovery when we mourn. May we refrain from making our relationship with you a trivial friendship. May we recognize the doors that you open and the doors that you close. May we know peace as we live for you. In Jesus’ name, amen.