Psalm 128

Family Blessing

A Song of Ascents.

1 Blessed is everyone who fears YHWH,
who walks in his ways.
2 For you will eat the labor of your hands.
You will be happy, and it will be well with you.
3 Your wife will be as a fruitful vine,
in the innermost parts of your house;
your children like olive plants,
around your table.
4 Behold, thus is the man blessed who fears YHWH.
5 May YHWH bless you out of Zion,
and may you see the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life.
6 Yes, may you see your children's children.
Peace be upon Israel.

World English Bible

How is your family a blessing to you?

This short psalm was a beatitude for the humble, Law-biding family man. The man in awe of the Lord would prosper, have a "proper," child-bearing wife (hidden in the family's compound), and children who would surround the father at the table. (Notice the two agricultural analogies: the vine represented the fertile wife bearing many children and the olive plants represented the productive off-spring to bring the father wealth.) The form of Psalm 128:1b-4 was "A-B-A," where the man feared the Lord (1b and 4) would prosper with wife and many children.

This man would receive the blessing of the Temple and share in the festivities of Jerusalem. The end of the blessing wished the man long life to see his grandchildren.

The invocation of "Shalom" for Israel concluded the psalm.

In context, this "song of ascents" was prayed over the pilgrim at sacrifice in the Temple. The priest who received the offering blessed the faithful man. 128:5-6 indicated this blessing may have been invoked before the pilgrim left. In any case, the psalm presented the ideal lay man: prosperous, yet humble with a faithful, fertile wife and many children. In the eyes of the psalmist, this pilgrim would see his grandchildren and live to a ripe old age.

Notions about the ideal lay person have changed. Women have an equal place with men. Children are treasured and nurtured, not exploited for their productivity. Yet, the idea of family as blessing remains. God uses the family to bless parents. Every parent prays they will see their grandchildren. (Some of us actually reach that point!)

When I was an undergrad, a professor once proclaimed, "There is nothing like a marriage based on faith and a faith-filled family." I could not agree more. Both are pure blessing.

Thank God for the blessing of your family. Ask blessing on your immediate and extended family.