The Pilgrim’s Blessedness As He Walks in Fear of the Lord 

a brief study of Psalm 128, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 22 July 2011


Like Psalm 127, Psalm 128 is a pilgrim song that has a focus on the covenant family. Luther calls this psalm, “A wedding song for Christians.” And it is indeed, a very appropriate psalm to use for weddings. But of course, can be used on all other occasions.

It is a psalm given by Christ our King that we may sing with Him to encourage one another in our pilgrim walk unto the Celestial City. It has been pointed out that the theme in Psalm 127 may be expressed in the words of the Lord in Matthew 6:25-32—

“Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; … for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Mt 6:31, 25).

So correspondingly, Matthew 6:33 would appropriately express the theme of Psalm 128—

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

We may entitle this psalm, “The Pilgrim’s Blessedness as he walks in the Fear of the LORD.”

We can discern two parts in this short psalm. In the first part, verses 1-3, we have a thesis of the psalm and examples to support the thesis. In the second part, we have a reiteration of the thesis supported by a benediction.

We may subtitle the first part of the psalm as…


1.  The Fruitfulness of One who Fears the LORD

    1  Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

As I mentioned, this is the thesis of this psalm. Those who fear that LORD and walk in His ways will be blessed for they will experience the LORD’s blessing.

What is it to fear the LORD? It is to believe Him, to revere Him, to love Him, to seek to please Him, to glorify and enjoy Him. One who fears the LORD has his heart made alive by the Spirit of God, senses the greatness and glory of God and is filled with gratitude and love for God for what He has done and is doing for him. And therefore he seeks to walk in God’s ways in gratitude and love.

Have you been washed by the blood of Christ and experienced the love of God shed in your heart? Is your life constrained by the love of Christ? If so, beloved brothers and sisters and children, blessed are you.

In general, by the providence of the Lord, all things equal, you will know the Lord’s blessing by way of success and fruitfulness in your labours.

2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

Isn’t this what the Lord Jesus is saying in Matthew 6:33. Those who seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, are no doubt also those who fear the LORD and walk in His way. Generally, in the providence of God, these will see their labours pay off, and enjoy a peace and happiness that God alone can give you.

Those who are farmers, are given to enjoying good harvests.

Those who are a students or employees, will find satisfaction or approval in their work.

Those who are teachers, doctors or preachers, will see lives benefiting from their labours.

What about those who are fathers? Verse 3—

 3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

Can you see the metaphor? Your wife will be fruitful like the grapevines that are clinging on to the trellis around the house. She will be a delight to you and a source of great blessing. In particular, she will bear you many children. Your children will be like olive plants round about your table.

Imagine the scene. You are having a meal or having worship at the table and your children are encircling the table like olive shoots. What a blessing! What a joy!

Children are not a burden. They are the heritage of the LORD as we saw in Psalm 127. Those who fear the LORD and walk in his way shall in general experience the Lord’s blessing of children.

Now, like all promises in the temporal sphere, we must we must not absolutise and insist that if a man has many children he must surely fear the LORD and walk in His ways whereas those who have no children surely do not fear the LORD. Well, if a couple who can have children, but refuse for selfish reasons, then they certainly do not fear the LORD and cannot expect His blessing. But we cannot generalise that all who have no children are not walking with the LORD.

No, no; like the promise of long life to those who keep the 5th commandment, this promise of children is true only as much as it shall serve the good of those who fear the Lord and also the glory of God’s name. God sometimes withholds the blessing of children for various reasons. So those without children must learn to humble themselves under God’s mighty hand like Abraham and Sarah, and Hannah, and John and Elizabeth. And conversely those who fear not the LORD, the living and true God, but have many children ought to realise that every child they lead in the way of idolatry or lawlessness will add to their sorrow and guilt as they cry vengeance for all eternity.

But such as fear the LORD and bring their children up in the fear and nurture of the LORD will know their joy enhanced by the enlargement of the family and of the church.

With this in mind, consider the second part of this psalm, which we may entitle…


2.  The Joy of One who Fears the LORD

    4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.

The word ‘thus’ suggests that the blessing of children should still be borne in mind as we come to this verse. Those who fear the LORD can wait upon the LORD for this blessing, and can use this promise in his prayers as he petitions the Father to bless him thus.

But for the man who fears and loves the LORD, the joy and satisfaction of his heart is met not merely by having many children. There are those who love to boast who are happy as long as they have many children to brag about. But not the man who fears the LORD. The man who fears the LORD has a much more profound perspective and attitude to life. This is why we say that those who fear the LORD are also those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

And so, we must sing in benediction with our LORD, verse 5—

5 The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. 6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.

The kingdom of God finds its primary manifestation in the church of Christ, which is spoken of as Zion and Jerusalem in these words. The Church is like an Olive Tree with branches bearing fruit and olive shoots. Adult converts are added to the church by grafting. Covenant children, on the other hand, grow up as olive shoots on the tree.

Those who fear the LORD will be blessed by the LORD through the joy of seeing the prosperity of the Church of Christ, the Olive Tree. Those who pour out their lives in the nurture and admonition of their children shall see the fruit of their labours though the enlargement and growth in grace of the Olive Tree. They will see their children and their children’s children contributing to the life of the church and the glory of Christ. What a blessing that will be!

The nurture of covenant children, beloved brethren, is not the responsibility of the church, but of their parents, especially their fathers. And it is the fathers and mothers that will reap the benefit and joy.

But what about those without children? Once again, let us remember that while the blessing spoken about in this psalm is the fruit of the womb, there are those who may not have physical children but many spiritual children.

So we may all sing and receive these words in union with Christ our Head. We must sing it to encourage one another, especially those who can have children. But those of us who cannot have children may receive the promises in this psalm too! For those who fear the LORD and walk in His ways will, according to the Lord’s promise, also see the good of Jerusalem and experience the joy of the Lord’s blessings through His Church.


Conclusion

This is Psalm 128. We live in a day when the promise of this psalm sounds hollow and meaningless because many, including professing Christians, no longer regard children as a blessing, nor do they regard the prosperity of the church to be a source of delight.

This is an age of individualism and hedonism.

But while times and attitudes have changed, God does not change. God’s truth remains. God’s promises have not lost their value. Children are still a blessing of the LORD. Let no one deny that. The prosperity of the church is still a delight. It is a delight to God. It is a delight to all who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and indwelt with the Spirit of Christ.

Oh may the Lord grant us the grace to know these things, and especially to experience the joy promised in this psalm. May He grant us that we may sing the promise to encourage one another with joy and anticipation. Amen.