Happy Home of the Righteous
1 [b]A song of ascents.
Blessed[c] are all those who fear the Lord
and walk in his ways.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labors;
you will enjoy both blessings and prosperity.[d]
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine[e]
within your house;
your sons will be like shoots of an olive tree
around your table.
4 Such are the blessings that will be bestowed
on the man who fears the Lord.
5 [f]May the Lord bless you from Zion[g]
all the days of your life.
May you rejoice in the prosperity of Jerusalem
6 and live to see your children’s children.[h]
Peace be upon Israel.
- Psalm 128:1 A prosperous home, such is the happiness reserved by God for the righteous—so thought the sages of Israel (see Prov 3:33). Although the people soon realized that God’s reward is more mysterious, the joy and intimacy of the hearth, delicately invoked in this psalm, and the gathering of all in a Jerusalem radiant with peace remain the most suggestive images of the happiness that God will bestow on the righteous. The psalmist is encouraging the individual to contribute to the building up of the kingdom of God by living a godly life. Through him, his family will be built up, and God’s blessing will be extended to all the People of God.
In praying this psalm, we can apply it above all to the spiritual goods that God reserves for Christian families. However, we know that the heavenly Father does not fail to add to his supernatural benefits such natural ones as the blessings and happiness promised by the psalmist: prosperity, professional success, fecundity, longevity, and peace.
- Psalm 128:1 The psalmist delineates the blessings of a God-fearing family: the right relationship with God, obedience to his words, fruitful labor, compatible loving parents, godly children, and domestic harmony.
- Psalm 128:1 The wise man was especially concerned with walking in the ways of the Lord (see Pss 1:1; 25:9f; Prov 14:2), ways of love, fidelity, and uprightness. Blessed: see note on Ps 1:1. Fear the Lord: see note on Ps 15:2-5. His ways: i.e., his commandments (see Pss 27:11; 86:11; 143:8).
- Psalm 128:2 In godly living, the judgment of God on humans (see Gen 3:17-19) is alleviated, for labor is truly blessed by God.
- Psalm 128:3 The imagery of vine and olive shoots recalls the times of David and Solomon (see 1 Ki 4:25) and the blessing associated with the Messianic Age (see Mic 4:4; Zec 3:10). To sit under one’s vine and fig tree symbolized tranquillity, peace, and prosperity. The metaphor of the vine indicates that the wife will be not only fruitful but also everything that a wife should be for the good of the family (see Prov 31:10-31). The children (shoots of an olive tree) will be strong and later on continue the father’s work (see Ps 52:10; Jer 11:16; Hos 14:6).
- Psalm 128:5 The psalmist further summarizes the blessedness of the righteous—unbroken prosperity, true relationship with God, secure national defense, and long life. In doing so, he implicitly calls upon and encourages each one of the faithful to contribute to the building up of the kingdom of God by leading an upright life in the presence of God.
- Psalm 128:5 The presence of God extends to his faithful servant wherever he may live. For the new People of God, it signifies the blessing of God on all who have the Spirit dwelling in them. From Zion: see Pss 9:11; 20:3; 135:21.
- Psalm 128:6 Live to see your children’s children: this prayer for the righteous corresponds to the phrase found in verse 5: “all the days of your life.” It calls down upon them God’s blessing of longevity, which was one of the greatest favors to be sought in a time when an idea of the afterlife had not yet been fully attained. Peace be upon Israel: see note on Ps 125:5. By these words, the psalmist applies God’s blessing on the individual to the whole People of God, requesting well-being and prosperity for all. Paul may be echoing this phrase in Gal 6:16: “May peace and mercy be given to all who follow this rule, and to the Israel of God.” It sums up Paul’s concern that God’s people should show themselves true citizens of “the Jerusalem that is above” (Gal 4:26).