Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 128

Verse 2

Psalms 128:2. Thou shalt eat the labour, &c. — Thy labour shall not be vain and fruitless, and the fruit of thy labour shall not be taken from thee and possessed by others, as was threatened to the disobedient Deuteronomy 28., but enjoyed by thyself with comfort and satisfaction. Happy shalt thou be — Whether thou be high or low, rich or poor, in the world, if thou fear God, and walk in his ways, thou mayest take the comfort of the promise to thyself, and expect the benefit of it, as if it were directed to thee by name. And it shall be well with thee — Both in this world and (as even the Chaldee paraphrast interprets the words) in the world to come. Whatever befalls thee, good shall be brought out of it; and “it shall be well with thee while thou livest, better when thou diest, and best of all in eternity.” — Henry.

Verse 3

Psalms 128:3. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine — “He will bless thee also in thy wife, and make her as fruitful as the vine, which spreads itself, laden with full clusters, over all the sides of thy house; and in thy hopeful children too, who shall grow up and flourish like the young olive-plants that are set in thy arbour, round about thy table.” Thus Bishop Patrick interprets the verse, and certainly the text, in its most obvious and literal sense, seems to countenance his interpretation. Mr. Harmer, however, in his Observations on Divers Passages of Scripture, questions the propriety of it, remarking that it does not appear, from the accounts of any travellers, that it was ever the custom of the Jews to conduct vines along the sides of their houses, and that we find no such arbours in the Levant as the bishop supposes, composed of young olive-plants, in the midst of which tables were set. He therefore understands the words thus: “Thy wife shall be in the sides, or private apartments of thy house, fruitful as a thriving vine:” considering the sides of the house as referring to the wife, not to the vine; and the table, in the other clause, to the children only, not to the olives. Cocceius, however, and Rabbi Kimchi, agree with Bishop Patrick, as does Dr. Hammond also, whose words are, “Vines, it seems, were then planted on the sides of houses, as now they are among us, and not only in vineyards, and to that the psalmist here refers. So likewise of olive-plants it is observable, not only that tables were dressed up with the boughs of them, ramis felicis olivæ, but that, in the eastern countries, they were usually planted, as in arbours, to shade the table, entertainments being made without doors, in gardens, under that umbrage, which gave all the liberty of the cool winds and refreshing blasts. An image whereof we have Genesis 18:4, Wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and a full expression Esther 1:5, The king made a feast in the court of the garden of the king’s palace.” Dr. Horne also, after weighing what Mr. Harmer had advanced against it, adopts this interpretation, observing that Mr. Merrick, in his Annotations, produces some very good arguments in favour of it. The doctor’s comment is, “The vine, a lowly plant, raised with tender care, becoming, by its luxuriance, its beauty, its fragrance, and its clusters, the ornament and glory of the house to which it is joined, and by which it is supported, forms the finest imaginable emblem of a fair, virtuous, and fruitful wife. The olive-trees planted by the inhabitants of the eastern countries around their tables, or banqueting-places in their gardens, to cheer the eye by their verdure, and to refresh the body by their cooling shade, do no less aptly and significantly set forth the pleasure which parents feel at the side of a numerous and flourishing offspring.”

Verse 5-6

Psalms 128:5-6. The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion — Where the ark of the covenant was, and where the pious Israelites attended to offer their devotions. He will bless thee with those spiritual and everlasting blessings which are to be had nowhere but in Zion, and from the God who dwells in Zion, blessings which flow, not from common providence, but from special grace, and with all other mercies which thou shalt ask of God in Zion. And thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem — The prosperity of that city to which thou belongest, and which is the only seat of God’s worship and special presence, and whose good, therefore, is very delightful to every pious Israelite, and upon whose peace and safety those of every citizen of it depend, as every seaman is concerned in the safety of the ship in which he sails. Thou shalt see thy children’s children — Thy family shall be built up and continued, and thou shalt have the pleasure of seeing it; and peace upon Israel — Not only upon Jerusalem, and parts adjacent, but upon all the tribes and people of Israel. Thy private comforts shall not be allayed and imbittered by public troubles, but thou shalt see the welfare of God’s church and of thy native country, which every man that fears God is no less concerned for than for the prosperity of his own family. For a good man can have little comfort in seeing his children’s children, unless, withal, he sees peace upon Israel, and have hopes of transmitting the entail of religion, pure and entire, to those that shall come after him.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 128". Joseph Benson's Commentary. 1857.