A SONG OF ASCENTS.
Blessed 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 blessed, and it shall be 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 Behold, 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!
A few thoughts for meditation:
1) This song has some parallel themes to the previous psalm (Ps. 127). It began with the individual man and his relationship to God. Where is a man to find true blessedness or happiness? It begins with fearing the Lord. To fear the Lord means you hold the Lord in reverence and honor. You worship him and live for him. He is the sun around which the rest of your life orbits, and the chief love and commitment of your heart. This fear shows itself by obedience; you “walk in his ways”. God gave instructions in his Word for how he designed us to live. Only by following that path will you know true joy and flourishing with Him, even in a fallen world. Once that commitment is set, then you will enjoy fruitful labor from your hands. Again, we hear the echoes of Eden, with Adam working and keeping that which God had put into his care.
2) The song then moved from the blessed man to his family. When a man is living in faithful communion with God, he will properly nurture his wife and children. The wife becomes a “fruitful vine”, a source of true abundance, joy, and beauty in the home. The children are described like olive shoots. They are tender and require careful nurture so that they will grow up into fruitful plants themselves in the days to come. The picture again is one of fruitful labor and care, multiplying and spreading throughout generations. It’s similar to what God called Adam and Eve to do themselves, to be fruitful and multiply, to fulfill the earth and subdue it with more worshipers and caretakers like themselves. This focus upon fearing the Lord, and laboring fruitfully for him in our work and families, runs counter to the spirit of our age which focuses primarily upon the expression and fulfillment of the individual, even if you must free yourself from God and family to get it. Using the pictures here, such a person is really just amputating themselves from the source of true life and blessedness and withering away.
3) The song naturally progressed from the family to the family of God. True blessedness exists not just with a right relationship to God and your family but to God’s redeemed people. God is creating a new community, family, and a holy nation through the work of Christ. God pours out his blessings to God-fearing individuals and families through his Church. The family garden is really a subsection of the larger garden of God. The Church is that spiritual greenhouse where we, our children, and grandchildren will truly flourish and grow in the Lord and experience true blessedness and peace with God. Again, this runs counter to the values of the culture now and even of some professing Christians, who neglect or reject the importance of the Church, especially a local church. Such an idea would have been unthinkable to the faithful in both the Old and New Testaments. Praying for the peace of Israel (or the Church) was a frequent prayer because that is where the Lord is feared, his Word is proclaimed, and the Spirit brings life to his people. They understood their organic connection to the larger body. If you want to enjoy true blessedness from God, then examine yourself in these three areas. Do you fear the Lord? Are you nurturing your family in that fear? Have you firmly planted and integrated yourself into the local church who fears the Lord?