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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 128

A Song of degrees.

This psalm is a side piece, or rather supplement, to the one preceding, to which it bears both a resemblance and a contrast, both constituting a completion of one design. In both psalms the family is the predominant theme, connecting with the broader relations of civil life and nationality. In both, also, our dependence on God for success in all our plans is equally prominent. But the contrast appears in this, that Psalms 127:0 is an admonition to those who would, in a godless self-trust, engage in the undertakings of life, while Psalms 128:0 pronounces blessings on the God-seeking man. The vanity of the labour of the one and of the blessedness of the other form the negative and positive sides of the argument the lights and shadows of the picture. That they both were written from the standpoint of the Hebrew doctrine that true family life and an abundant population, fearing God, are the glory of any nation is clear enough, and both might well be assigned to the same author and occasion. Most appositely, therefore, is it placed, with the pilgrim songs, among psalms of the latest date, suiting as well the special states of the returned exiles as the general spirit of the nation.

Verse 1

1. Blessed Oh the blessings of every one fearing Jehovah! The אשׁרי , ( ashrey,) “blessed,” happy, with which the author begins, and which characterizes the God-seeking man, is contrasted with the שׁוא , ( shahv,) vainly, in vain, which belongs to the self-trusting man, (Psalms 127:1) and the tone of confidence in the assured happiness of the former, with the

אם , ( if, except,) which conditions the success of the latter.

Verse 2

2. Thou shall eat Literally, Thou shalt surely eat the labour of thy hands. The clause is strongly asseverating. This is the true dignity of man to support himself by his own labour; and this is the faithfulness of God to his children, to assure the rewards of their labour to them. It is “the promise of the life that now is,” 1 Timothy 4:8; opposed to the threatening of Deuteronomy 28:33; Leviticus 26:16

Verse 3

3. By the sides of thine house Literally. In the sides; supposed to denote “the background, or privacy of the house, where the housewife, who is not to be seen much out of doors, leads a quiet life, entirely devoted to her family,” ( Delitzsch;) in contrast with the harlot, who wanders the street. Proverbs 7:11-12. This requires us to refer the word “sides” not to vine, but to wife, as it is not the vine on the side of the “house,” but the wife on the inside of the “house,” thus: “Thy wife in the sides of thy house shall be as a fruitful vine; thy children around thy table like olive settings.” This last figure seems borrowed from the young olives springing from the roots of the parent tree, and perpetuating its beauty and fruitfulness.

Verse 4

4. Behold, that thus The asseverating particle is again employed, as in Psalms 128:2, to confirm the happiness of the God-fearing man. “Behold,” surely “thus,” etc., a beautiful setting in the picture of a happy, pious nation.

Verse 5

5. Out of Zion The Hebrew knows no blessing apart from the Church, the covenant, and worship of God. The blessing must come from Zion, if it comes from God.

See the good of Jerusalem Next to his Church ranks his country, his nation. With the good of Jerusalem is connected all individual good. The religious-civic type of this psalm suits the lofty patriotism and piety of the time of David and the former part of Solomon’s reign, and as fitly the time of the return of the exiles.

Verse 6

6. So far as this may apply to the returned exiles, compare Zechariah 8:4-5.

Peace upon Israel There is no and in the original, as in our English version, and it does not belong here: Peace to Israel is simply a form of parting salutation, as in Psalms 125:5, having ended his psalm of blessing.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 128". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.