Psalm 128 - You shall be happy

Jump to end of psalm
A Song of Ascents.
1) Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways.
2) You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.

3) Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4) Thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.

5) The Lord bless you from Zion.
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
6) May you see your children’s children.
Peace be upon Israel!.

Psalm 128
Not included in the Revised Common Lectionary.

What a simple prayer: may things go well for you and yours.

In fact, the psalm is stronger. It is not a blessing or a hope. Most of the psalm is phrased as declarations. Happy is... You shall...

It assumes that blessing follows from "fear of the Lord."

"Fear" in this context means more than the physical and emotional reaction of fear. Awe, reverence, obedience, thanksgiving, praise, worship, love are all in the constellation of "God-fearing." Those who fear God do so because, in some way, they know God.

The psalm presumes you already know something of God's work in the world and in your life. This is about the quality of relationship which leads to blessing, to fruitfulness, to prosperity. And to happiness. What is life without happiness, satisfaction, joy?

The psalm is gendered, in its reference to "your wife" as a fruitful vine. But "happy is everyone who fears the Lord."

"Everyone" means you. Do what you need to make this prayer your own. Imagine the confidence in your relationship with the Lord to just declare that all will be well.

Note that there are two "may you" prayers in verses 5 and 6. "May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life," and May you [live to] see your grandchildren.

These both look to the future. Make what you will of this. Perhaps it suggests that the future is not yet written. It probably does not hurt us to think that our actions today to live as God-fearers has an influence on the future of our community and those who come after us. Our perhaps it is a simple encouragement to trust in God and look forward in hope.

The Lord will lead you. You shall be happy.

Credits:
Osaro, Tomato Plant Nature, July 25, 2013. Public domain, Pixabay license.

* New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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