Psalm 128 - It shall go well with you

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.

This is the hope, right? That walking in the way of the Lord will lead to peace and prosperity.

It's a beautiful dream, and no one can be faulted for wanting the full goodness of life. Good work and good rewards. A marriage relationship that is blessed. The psalm speaks of fertility, but I imagine that fruitful in this context also means happiness, it means a blssed satisfaction in the natural result of following the Lord’s will for our lives.

That's not always a marriage partner and genetic heirs. It can also be a life of service, trusted friends and colleagues, those who have made use of your teaching, your cooking, the work of your hands and your godly example of kindness and faith.

Five of the six verses detail the goodness that flows from all aspects of godliness. "Fear of the Lord" in this context means a profound respect for God's goodness and God's God-ness.

The wise will hear the blessings this psalm envisions and promises. And will hearken to that Word.

This could be a good place to end.

But in April 2024 it is impossible to consider prosperity in Jerusalem and peace upon Israel, without seeking the same in Gaza and the West Bank.

The wise will also hear a word of caution. How can Jerusalem prosper and Israel be at peace without that constant hearkening to the Lord's Way?

This beautiful dream of prosperity and growth is just a wisp of smoke without faithfulness to God's torah of justice, and concern for the shalom not only of self, but of neighbors.

No psalm exists in isolation. Each is part of the hymnbook and prayerbook of Israel, blessed be the name of the Lord. The psalms drink from the well of all of God's Word.

I invite you to continue this reflection in dialogue with Psalm 129, which for reasons unknown the ancient faithful placed next to this.


Fruitful vine, unattributed. (2024, March 31, 2024).

* New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition Bible (NRSVUE), copyright © 2021 the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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