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This, like the former, is a Psalm for families. In that, we were taught that the prosperity of our families depends upon the blessing of God: in this, we are taught that the only way to obtain that blessing which will make our families comfortable, is to live in the fear of God, and in obedience to Him. It is thought by many to have been sung at the marriages of the Israelites, as it is a part of the matrimonial service used in modern times.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE GOOD
I. That the blessedness of the good is the result of a holy life.
1. A holy life begins in the fear of God. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord” (Psalms 128:1). Not the shuddering fear of conscious guilt. Not the fear of the hypocrite, or the formalist. But the fear that arises out of a profound reverence and love of God. This fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom
2. A holy life is maintained by constant obedience. “That walketh in His ways” (Psalms 128:1). As Comber remarks—“He only truly fears God who is afraid to displease Him by forsaking the paths of His commandments.” Loving fear is the strongest motive to obedience; and obedience is the practical manifestation of true piety. That is a happy home indeed where the fear of God is the regulating principle.
II. That the blessedness of the good consists in a happy and contented livelihood. “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee” (Psalms 128:2). Some men labour and worry, and all in vain. They are never any better off, and they have no enjoyment in the fruit of their labour. But the good man, though not exempt from toil, is happy in his daily work, and enjoys what he earns. The fruit of his labour is not taken from him and possessed by others, as was threatened to the disobedient Israelites (Deuteronomy 28:33; Deuteronomy 28:38-40; Leviticus 26:16). “Noble, upright, self-denying toil,” wrote Hugh Miller, “who that knows thy solid worth and value would be ashamed of thy hard hands, thy soiled vestments and thy obscure tasks, thy humble cottage and hard couch and homely fare!” Religion gives dignity to labour, and transmutes what was originally a part of man’s curse into a blessing.
III. That the blessedness of the good is found in the joys of domestic life.
“Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table” (Psalms 128:3). The woman pictured in the Song is not to be seen lounging at the door, an idle gossip, with something to say to every passer-by, but attends to her duties in the interior of the dwelling, and, like her husband, fears the Lord (Proverbs 9:13-14; Amos 6:10). The clinging vine is a symbol of attachment, grace and fruitfulness, dressing the props and walls to which its curling tendrils hold with leaves that shade the verandah and cool the house, and enriching them with clusters of juicy fruit that maketh glad the heart of man. The pious and loving wife, the screen, adornment, and crown of the God-fearing husband, who is her support and strength, so smiles and speaks and acts that the master is happy everywhere because most happy when at home. The children are like olive-plants—vigorous, able to stand alone and separate, bright with the promise of goodly fruit and rivers of oil. Rooted to the spot, glad to stay at home, “round about thy table,” loving and dutiful, they shall abundantly delight thy heart.—The Caravan and Temple.
IV. That the blessedness of the good is augmented by witnessing the advancing prosperity of Zion. “Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed,” &c. (Psalms 128:4-6). The good man is not only blessed by the Church, he is also a blessing to it. He becomes identified with all its interests; mourns over its reverses and rejoices in its success. A happy home is a blessing both to the Church and to the nation. “It is a circle of blessing, the Lord, the saint, and the neighbour; closet prayer, family worship and temple service; the Home, the Church and the State. Like the cloud falling upon the earth, the river running to the sea, and the ocean rising to the sky, it is a perpetual round of fertility, beauty, and thanksgiving, regarded with complacence by the radiant Artificer enthroned in the heavens.” The chief concern of the good is the peace and prosperity of Israel.
1. There is no blessedness apart from goodness.
2. None are excluded from this blessedness—it is for “every one that feareth the Lord.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 128". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20