The Secret of a Prosperous Spiritual Life
“Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.” Psalm 128
As a young man with a young family, I have grappled with the problem of how to prioritize my responsibilities to myself, my family, and the assembly. I am quite sure I’m not alone in this difficulty. Although he was writing about three thousand years ago in a different cultural setting, the psalmist offers some relevant guidance. The individual is brought to the forefront with the phrase, “every one” (v 1), for what is about to be said must influence each of us. The psalmist talks about two actions that result in blessing: reverencing the Lord and walking in His ways. Christians need constantly to progress in their spiritual growth (Gal 5.25). This is an individual responsibility which cannot be off-loaded onto others. In verse 2 we see what blessing awaits the one who lays hold on this promise. The Israelite, living in a different dispensation, experienced a more tangible and visible blessing, but even today believers can enjoy the benefits of spiritual fruitfulness (Gal 5.22-26). The character of Christ will be reflected in His people as we are changed into His image. Such personal godliness will inevitably influence our home life.
In the next two verses the psalmist takes up the family. In a marriage where God has His rightful place, the wife will ideally be “fruitful” (Eph 5.25). Appropriately, the psalmist draws on plants which were particularly associated with Israel’s productivity, the “vine” (Isa 5.7) and “olive” (Jer 11.16). This blessed man is the master in his own home, his children sitting in beautiful order around his table. Perhaps we should take a hard look at our family life. Do we rule our home as Christ desires (1 Tim 3.5)? The Hebrew word for “man” in verse 4 means literally “the strong man”; to fear the Lord is not cowardice but rather the highest badge of honor and the secret of true strength.
The last two verses focus on the national interest. Those individuals who practiced the behavior and enjoyed the blessings mentioned in the earlier part of the psalm would enrich the entire nation. It was not the psalmist’s wealth, intelligence, or force of personality which benefited Zion, but his faithful obedience to God’s word. Today, a local assembly will not see growth or blessing if its members do not go to God for daily cleansing. The testimony of the assembly can so easily be marred by an unruly home in the community. On the other hand, consider the spiritual power which would be unleashed in our towns and cities if we were all following the will of God.
The psalm concludes with “peace” (v 6), that spiritual well-being enjoyed by God’s people when they fear His name and walk in His ways.
The psalm makes the point that spiritual prosperity in the individual, the home, and the local assembly are interconnected – but it all has to start with me!