Theme: A Wonderful Word
In this week’s lessons, we see how we ought to think and act biblically, and the blessings that the Lord provides when we do this.
Scripture: Psalm 128:1-6
“Blessing” is a wonderful word. In spiritual matters, it has to do with God’s particular favors to his people. Because God is generous and great, his blessings are generous and great as well. Once we have begun to experience them they seem to be without limit. God’s blessings go on and on.
“Blessing” is the unifying word of Psalm 128, where in most of our English translations the related words “blessed,” “blessings” and “bless” occur four times in all (in vv. 1, 2, 4, 5). Only verses 3 and 6 are without it. In Hebrew two rich words are used, asher in the first part of the psalm (vv. 1, 2) and barak in the second part (vv. 4, 5). The last verses are a specific blessing pronounced on the man who walks in God’s ways.
The psalm we studied last week talked about God’s blessing on the family, saying that sons are “like arrows in the hands of a warrior” and that the man who has many sons is blessed: “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (Ps. 127:5). In this psalm the words about God’s blessing begun in Psalm 127 continue, which is why the psalms come together as they do. In the former, God’s blessing was on a man and his sons. Here we also have mention of the man’s wife and children, and even of his children’s children. So the earlier blessing is extended throughout the whole family and to several generations, even to the whole people of God. As far as an outline for this psalm goes, it deals first with the God-fearing man, second with the God-fearing family, and last of all with the God-fearing city or nation.
Since this psalm has so much to say about God’s blessings, we are not surprised to find that it begins with a blessing, like the Psalter itself, which starts with Psalm 1 (“Blessed is the man …”), or like Christ’s beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Psalm 1 pronounces a blessing on the man who does not follow in the way of wicked persons but delights in the law of the Lord instead (vv. 1, 2). In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus pronounces a blessing on the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, show mercy, are pure in heart, are peacemakers and who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matt. 5:3-10).
In the first verse of Psalm 128, the blessings of adequate material prosperity and family happiness are promised to the man who does two things: 1) he must fear or reverence God (Solomon said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” Prov. 9:10); and 2) he must walk in God’s ways. This double requirement is the first thing said: “Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways.” But then it is hammered home again in verse 4: “Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD.”
What is a blessing?
How can Psalms 127 and 128 be linked?
What is the outline of this psalm? Why is it significant?
To whom is God’s blessing promised in v. 1?
Application: Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:1-7:29 or Luke 6:20-49) and list the blessings Jesus talks about there. Pray you will exhibit these qualities.
For Further Study: Consider using the Psalms for your family devotions. James Boice’s sermons would be a helpful resource to guide your study, applications, and discussions. Order your copy of the three-volume paperback set and take 25% off the regular price.