PSALM ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT
TITLE A Song of Ascents ( ryvi
[def.art.w/n.f.p., ma-alah, what comes up, step, stair]).
A Man Adjusted to God (vv.1,2)
His Family Life (vv.3,4)
The Bigger Picture (vv.5,6)
VERSE 1 How blessed is everyone who fears the LORD (
ashere] arey>-lK';; [n.m.s.
+ Qal.pt.m.s., yare, fear] hw"hy>
Who walks in His ways ( %lehoh;
[Qal.pt.m.s., halak, walk] `wyk'r'd>Bi
[prep./n.m.p. w/3.m.s.sf., derek, way]).
VERSE 2 When you shall eat of the fruit
of your hands ( yKi
[conj.] lkeat [Qal.impf.2.m.s.,
akhal, eat] [;ygIy>
[n.m.s., yeghiya, toil, produce, product] ^yP,K;
[n.f.dual., kaph, palm, hand]),
You will be happy and it will be well with you
[interj.w.2.m.s.sf., ashere; cp. v.1a; Deut.33:29; Eccl.10:17; "You will
be happy"] bAjw> o[conj.w/n.m.s.,
tobh, good] `%l' [prep.w/2.m.s.sf.]).
ANALYSIS: VERSES 1,2
The quiet blessings of a doctrinally-centered life is the scope of this
They are available to "everyone who fears the LORD".
"Blessed" means "happy", the same word used in v.2b.
Here happiness (+H) is summed up as respect for God and obedience
to His directive will (v.1).
Two things are required if a man, under the divine institutions of marriage
and family, is to attain to the full realization of the divine ideal of
happiness, success, and contentment.
He must fear God and apply the commandments learned under GAP.
It is a very simple formula, but one that is rarely seen due to manís unwillingness
to seek God and learn His ways.
Hard work (v.2a) is taken for granted, but this song makes it clear, as
in Ps.127, that the enjoyment of the fruits of oneís labor is a gift from
The individual male believer who sets out to make God and His will the
center and focus of his life will reap blessings in his occupation, marriage,
and family life.
The key is a consistent and broad-based application of the imperatives
"You will be happy and it will be well with you" is the promise that comes
to any male believer who "fears" God and "walks (applies) in His ways".
Happiness is what everyone wants, yet it is far from most, as they do not
conform to what is set forth in v.1.
Many people work hard, yet they do not truly enjoy the fruit of their labors,
as they are at odds with the directive will of God.
The promises of v.2 may seem modest, and the formula of v.1 unadventurous,
but the alternative is a life subject to frustration and misery.
Adherence to BD enables the individual to avoid bad (STA predicated) decision-making
that undermines the quiet and contented life that is promised to all who
Many men work hard but they neglect their families and reap misery.
His Family Life (vv.3,4)
VERSE 3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful
vine (. ^T.v.a, [n.f.s.w/2.m.s.sf.,
ishshah, woman, wife] !p,g<K
[prep.w/n.m.s., gephen, vine] . hY"rIPo
[Qal.pt.f.s., parah, bear fruit]),
Within your house ( yteK.r>y:B
[prep.w/n.f.dual.cstr., yarekhah, remote parts, recesses;
"within"] ^t,ybe [n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf.,
Your children like olive plants
( ^yn<B' [n.m.p.w/2.m.s.sf.,
ben, child] yletiv.Ki
[prep. w/n.m.pl.cstr., shathyil, cutting, transplant; "plants"] ~ytiyzE
[n.m.p., zayith, olive]
Around your table ( bybis'
[adv., around] `^n<x'l.vul.
[prep.w/n.m.s.w/2.m.s.sf., shulechan, table].
VERSE 4 Behold, for thus shall the man
be blessed ( hNEhi
[prep. + adv.; "for thus"] rb,G
[n.m.s., gebher, mighty man] %r;boy>
[Pual.impf.3.m.s., barakh, bless])
Who fears the LORD ( arey>
[Qal.pt.m.s., yare, fear] `hw"hy>
ANALYSIS: VERSES 3,4
Such a man is blessed at his job and in his home life.
His wife is presented under the figure of the vine.
Such a man is rewarded with a wife who is faithful and devoted to him.
Grape vines were in abundance in the land of Israel.
The vine was a symbol of fruitfulness (here explicitly stated), but also
of romantic love (SOS.7:8ff).
She is to him a "fruitful vine" bringing much soulish and physical satisfaction
into his life.
She is a grace gift that makes his home life so happy (Prov.18:22 "He
who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD";
Prov.12:4 "An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who
shames him is as rottenness in his bones"; Prov.19:14 "House
and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from
The strong word "within" (v.3b) indicates that this is her primary domain,
which is graced by her care and attention to the joy of her family.
She, then, is the perfect compliment to her RM.
The home environment is a reflection of their mutual devotion to their
spheres of activity.
In the evening they enjoy the blessings of a home and marriage that is
sanctified by the WOG and prayer.
When she goes forth from the home, it is for the benefit of the family
unit (cp. Prov.31:10-31).
She is in complete contrast to the wayward wife of Prov.7:11.
The attractiveness of the God-centered wife is her faithfulness, industriousness,
and devotion to her husband and children.
The man who is devoted to God is rewarded with such a woman.
The "childrenÖaround your table" are the hope and promise of the future.
Note the expressions "your hands" (income derived from honest labor), "your
wife", "your house", "your children", "your table", and "your childrenís
children", which draws our attention to the head of the house, who is the
subject of this song.
The simile of "olive plants" (or cuttings) is instructive, like the arrows
They are related to two stages of youth.
The olive plant indicates tender growth to be nurtured by the parents.
The arrows suggest zeal for the family interests rooted and grounded in
Vigorous sons and dependable daughters are the result of faithful attention
to their early development (cp. Ps.144:12).
The young children are as young olive plants, which hold promise for the
The divine ideal is seen in the picture of the family sitting around the
supper table in love and respectful devotion to one another.
Such a home knows love and order and prosperity, and guarantees a steady
flow of divine blessing.
This blessed state of affairs comes to the man "who fears the LORD".
Such a man commands respect and devotion from his family.
He is neither a bully nor a wimp, but rules his household in wisdom and
This kind of familial blessedness is available to all those who will devote
themselves to hearth and home.
Too often men allow unworthy goals and interests to undermine attention
to wife and children.
Neglect and indifference lead to all sorts of dysfunctional conditions
within the divine institution.
Those who truly fear God qualify themselves for this kind of blessing.
One has to be willing to make this the priority rather than materialistic
Every decision made by the husband and the wife should be viewed in light
of its impact on the family.
VERSE 5 The LORD bless you from Zion (
hw"hy> [pr.n.] ^k.r,b'y>
[Piel.impf.3.m.s. w/2.m.s.sf., barakh, bless] !AYCimi
And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all
the days of your life ( haer>W
[conj.w/Qal.imper., ra-ah, see] bWjB.
[prep.w/n.m.s.cstr., tobh, good; "prosperity"] ~l'iv'Wry
[pr.n.] lKo> [n.m.s.,
all] ymey> [n.m.p.cstr.,
yom, day] `^yY<x;
[n.m.p.w/2.m.s.sf., chayay, life]).
VERSE 6 Indeed, may you see your children's
children ( ~ynIb'-haer>W
[conj. w/Qal.imper., ra-ah, see, + n.m.p., ben] ^yn<b'l
ben; "sons for your sons" = grandchildren]).
Peace be upon Israel ( ~Alv
' [n.m.s., peace]
ANALYSIS: VERSES 5,6
The quiet blessings of the ordered life are traced from the center outwards
as the focus moves from the godly man to his family and finally to the
An adjusted male believer living in the age of Israel came under the priestly
benediction of these final verses.
At the close of religious festivals the priests would send the men (and
their families) back to their homes and labors throughout the land (cf.
The realization of the benediction, of course, depended upon the individualís
attitude of heart towards God and His commandments.
The hope expressed in v.5 is that each pilgrim would be worthy of such
blessing under the covenant (Law of Moses).
Those that experienced the reality were those who gave serious attention
to the directive will of God.
Dear to the pilgrim was the welfare of Jerusalem, in addition to his own
welfare (vv.5a and 2).
The blessings of verses 5 and 6 came from God who made Jerusalem/Zion His
The source of such blessing, as detailed in this psalm, is spelled out.
Individual blessing comes from the generous hand of Yahweh, who identified
Himself with the spiritual fountainhead of the national life - the Temple
The blessing of v.5b depended upon many individuals who raised families
in the fear of God.
The "prosperity of Jerusalem" within a lifetime depended upon the overall
spiritual health of greater Israel.
It depended upon how the nation at large related itself to the will of
God as taught through the Temple and its services.
The earthly Zion was a miniature of the heavenly Zion, from where all blessings
Earthy Zionís prosperity depended upon the health of tribal Israel.
Individualís fortunate enough to live during periods when the capital was
safe came under the blessing of v.5b.
Long life and the blessing of seeing grandchildren (v.6a) is keyed to strong
The family is the basic unit of society, and as goes the family, so goes
The individual male Jewish believer who lived in the fear of the Lord and
who was rewarded with a happy and strong family contributed to the stability
of the nation.
To live to see "your childrenís children" was a reward to those who honored
God during their adult lives.
Long life was a promised blessing under the Mosaic Covenant (Prov.3:16).
The divine ideal was that there be an unbroken chain, generation after
This is how Israel was to live on from father to son to grandson.
Israelís historical failure to sustain this in no way overrides the divine
Israel will attain to this in the Age of Christ.
The simple philosophy of this psalm, presented in seemingly absolute terms,
receives qualification throughout Scripture (all positive individuals were
not so blessed due to specialized circumstances).
However, for many, apart from exceptional niches, such categorical blessings
were a reality.
The road to such blessing may be varied based on any number of factors.
Young people who are married or contemplating marriage should look to this
song as a goal to be realized under Godís grace.
All can look to it as a corrective to dysfunction within their home life.
The final benediction is directed towards the believing community for time
The psalmist calls down "peace"/prosperity upon the believing community
for all its members in all places and in all ages.
END: PSALM ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT
JACK M. BALLINGER
© Copyright 1998, Maranatha Church Inc.