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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 128

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary

Introduction

Psalms 128:0

STROPHE DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NASBNKJVNRSVTEVNJB
Blessedness of the Fear of the LordMT IntroA Song of AscentsBlessing of Those Who Fear the LordA Large and Prosperous Family Is A Reward for Devotion to the Lord(Wisdom Psalm)The Reward of Obedience to the LordBlessings on the Faithful
Psalms 128:1-4Psalms 128:1Psalms 128:1-4Psalms 128:1Psalms 128:1
Psalms 128:2-4 Psalms 128:2-4Psalms 128:2-3
Psalms 128:4-6
Psalms 128:5-6Psalms 128:5-6aPsalms 128:5-6aPsalms 128:5-6
Psalms 128:6bPsalms 128:6b

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Etc.

Verses 1-4

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 128:1-4 1How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. 2When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you. 3Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like olive plants Around your table. 4Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the Lord.

Psalms 128:1 “blessed” See note on this word (BDB 80) at Psalms 1:1. There are two major terms in Hebrew for the concept of “blessed” or “happy,” both relating to God and humans. Let me use Deuteronomy 33:0 as an example.

1. bless (see SPECIAL TOPIC: BLESSING [OT])

a. noun - BDB 139, cf. Deuteronomy 33:1, Deuteronomy 33:11

b. verb - BDB 138, cf. Deuteronomy 33:1, Deuteronomy 33:13, Deuteronomy 33:20, Deuteronomy 33:24

2. bless - BDB 80, used in Psalms 1:1 and 18 more times in Psalms but not in Genesis or Deuteronomy

YHWH's blessings are directly related to those covered by His covenant. It is based on obedience (see Special Topic: Keep). This whole concept of prosperity and contentment is part of the OT's “two ways,” seen in Psalms 1:0; Deuteronomy 30:15, Deuteronomy 30:19 and described as “cursing” and “blessing” in Leviticus 26:0 and Deuteronomy 27-30.

The truly blessed person is the one who is rightly related to (1) God, (2) his/her family, and (3) the people of God. All three spheres must be in harmony!

“everyone” Notice how this is limited.

1. those who fear the Lord, Psalms 128:3, Psalms 128:4 (see Special Topic: Fear [OT])

2. those who walk in His ways (cf. Psalms 119:2-3)

So the blessing is not for “everyone,” not even for covenant people, but only for faithful followers!

This has implications on how Christians should view the modern state of Israel. Covenant obedience is a prerequisite to covenant promises!

“ways” See Special Topic: Terms for God's Revelation.

Psalms 128:2-3 Notice the covenant promises for faithful followers (here, to one individual).

1. enjoy the fruit of their labors

2. be happy

3. good life

4. good home life

5. many, healthy children

6. a long life

This is the essence of OT blessings. YHWH wanted to get the attention of the nations by blessing Israel. Once they noticed, Israel was to share the source of their blessing and peaceYHWH.

It should be stated that abundant population growth was a command of God in

1. Genesis 1:28; Genesis 9:1, Genesis 9:7

2. it was part of the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2; Genesis 13:16; Genesis 16:10

3. it was also the reality of the family of Jacob (cf. Genesis 28:14) in Egypt that caused the Egyptian leaders to fear and persecute Israel (Exodus 1-2).

Psalms 128:2a Just a note to mention that this promise is the exact opposite of the threat of exile! The exiles were God's judgment on faithless covenant followers. It was the very opposite of His intended purposes. It was the epitome of irony!

Verses 5-6

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Psalms 128:5-6 5The Lord bless you from Zion, And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. 6Indeed, may you see your children's children. Peace be upon Israel!

Psalms 128:5-6 This is a closing prayer for both the individual faithful follower and national Israel (cf. Psalms 128:6b).

Psalms 128:1. Psalms 128:5a - bless (BDB 138, KB 159, Piel imperfect used in a jussive sense)

Psalms 128:2. Psalms 128:5b - may you see. . . (BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative)

Psalms 128:3. Psalms 128:6a - same as #2

Psalms 128:4. Psalms 128:6b - no verb but an assumed prayer (cf. Psalms 125:5)

It is interesting that Paul's allusion to the church in Galatians 6:16 uses similar phrasing to Psalms 128:6. Whether it is a direct, conscious allusion is uncertain.

Notice that “the prosperity of Jerusalem” is parallel to “see your children's children.” This refers to long term peace, prosperity, and societal stability.

Psalms 128:5 “from Zion” This refers to YHWH dwelling in the temple (cf. Psalms 123:3). See Special Topic: Zion.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Define the Hebrew term “blessed” (Psalms 128:1a).

2. Define the Hebrew term “fear” (Psalms 128:1a).

3. Why is “many children” considered a blessing?

4. How are the categories of faith, home, and nation linked?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Psalms 128". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/psalms-128.html. 2021.
 
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