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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

Psalms 128

 

 

Verses 1-6

Psalm 128

A Song of degrees

Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord;

That walketh in his ways.

2 For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands:

Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine

By the side of thine house:

Thy children like olive plants

Round about thy table.

4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed

That feareth the Lord.

5 The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion:

And thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem

All the days of thy life.

6 Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children,

And peace upon Israel.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Contents and Composition.—The Psalmist first praises ( Psalm 128:1-4) the blessedness of the man who fears God, to whom the promise is given that he shall enjoy the results of his labor and behold the welfare of wife and children in his house. He then utters a prayer that the well-doing of such a man will ever continue, in connection with the weal of Jerusalem and Israel ( Psalm 128:5-6).

In the foregoing Psalm conjugal felicity was extolled not merely as a gift of Jehovah’s mercy, but as a reward of those who fear God. It is scarcely allowable, therefore, to speak of this Psalm as supplementary to Psalm 127 (Delitzsch). Even externally they do not indicate any closer connection, or, least of all, such a resemblance that one Psalm is to be regarded as a response to the other, sung by the congregation in chorus (Pott). There is a similarity in some of the ideas, in the aphoristic mode of expression, and in the felicitation at the end of the one and at the beginning of the other, but these do not oblige us to hold a contemporaneous composition.

[Hengstenberg: “The subject is not as in Psalm 127 the individual fearer of God, but the ideal of God-fearers, the God-fearing Israel, who is also frequently personified elsewhere, e. g, in Lamentations 3:1. This is clear from the expression in Psalm 128:5 : ‘behold the good of Jerusalem,’ from the conclusion in Psalm 128:6 : “peace be upon Israel;” finally from the circumstance that all the fundamental passages alluded to in it refer to Israel.—In a time of trouble and distress the fear of God appeared to be forever deprived of its reward. This appearance threatened to affect its operation. An antidote against the disheartening sadness which would then be apt to insinuate itself against Israel, is provided in our Psalm, on which Zechariah 8 may be regarded as a commentary.”—Luther: “To this Psalm we will give the title of an Epithalamium or marriage song. In it the prophet cheereth them that are married, wishing unto them, and promising them from God, all manner of blessings.”—J. F. M.]

Psalm 128:2. The labor of thy hands appears to allude specially to the produce of the garden and field. It probably does not imply that the prosperity consisted in his being maintained by his own labor, as contrasted with living on charity (Kimchi, Calvin, Venema, Del.), but that the laborer himself and not others enjoyed the profits of his toil ( Isaiah 3:10), and was to rejoice in this privilege, Isaiah 9:19; Hosea 4:10; Micah 6:14; Haggai 1:6 (Geier, Hupfeld). Against transposing the two members of Psalm 128:2, as has been proposed (Hupfeld), it may be argued that the particle כִֹי does not stand here at the beginning of the sentence, and therefore cannot be taken as meaning for [E. V.] or since (Symm, Jerome, Calvin, Olshausen). Such a position is admissible only with the meaning that, as in Psalm 128:4, or, when the particle confirms a statement, yea, Psalm 118:10, comp. Isaiah 7:9; 1 Samuel 14:39 (Ewald, Maurer, Del.). Hence, in translating, the word may be neglected (Septuagint, Hitzig).

Psalm 128:3 ff. The same particle can be taken in a confirmatory sense in Psalm 128:4 also (Calvin, Venema, Delitzsch), but it is then also wrong to translate: Mark, for (Rudinger, Clericus, J. H. Mich, Rosenm, Maurer). [It will be observed that in this verse E. V. has the correct translation.—J. F. M.] The inner part of the house [ Psalm 128:3, E. V. literally: the sides of the house, comp. Amos 6:10—J. F. M.] is here designated literally: the corner or hinder portion, since the female apartments occupied the most retired portion of the tent or house.

“All the blessings of each individual come from the God of salvation, who has made Zion His dwelling-place, and is completed by participation in the prosperity of the Holy City and the whole Church, of which it forms the centre. A New Testament song would here direct the view to the Heavenly Jerusalem. But the character of this-sidedness (Diesseitigkeit) which is impressed upon the Old Testament, does not permit this. The promise only tells of participation in Jerusalem’s well-being on this side heaven ( Zechariah 8:15), and a life prolonged through children’s children, and in this sense it invokes and intercedes for peace upon Israel in all its members, in all places, and at all times” (Del .).

[Translate the last line of the Psalm: Peace be upon Israel.—J. F. M.]

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The blessing of piety on heart, house, and estate.—The fear of God does not make sorrowful, but joyful and blessed.—Godliness is a power to give prosperity, not only on the other side of death, but also on this.—The happiness of domestic life which is blessed by God: (1) wherein it consists; (2) on what it is founded; (3) how it is maintained.—The close connection between the public prosperity, a domestic life pleasing to God, and personal piety.

Starke: He who lives in the fear of God is no idler, but eats of the labor of his hands, that Isaiah, of his honorable calling blessed by God, by which He sustains him.—An harmonious married life and children well nurtured, are the dearest of temporal delights.—Parents, train up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord! If ye neglect this, you will train up, instead of useful olive-branches, useless thorn-bushes, unprofitable for any good purpose—God, for the sake of pious parents, often grants peace in their days to a country or city.

Arndt: Jerusalem never enjoyed greater blessings than Christ on the cross and the Holy Spirit from heaven; for on these depended God’s mercy, the forgiveness of sin, redemption from death, the devil and hell, righteousness, faith, love, hope, and eternal life; all these will thy beloved God grant thee to see, yea, to experience and enjoy.—Frisch: The channel through which the stream of blessing flows upon thy conjugal relations and thy house, is the spiritual Zion of the Church of God.—Rieger: There is much spoken and written about patriotism in the world; but the foundation of such a spirit must be laid deep in the fear of God; for without this we can neither have true prosperity ourselves, nor share in the blessings of the general good.—Richter: He who has received God’s kingdom in his heart, must give his heart to it, and whatever blessings a believer receives, he wishes for all, and prays, hopes, and works in the communion of the saints for that kingdom.—Guenther: Happy are those parents who regard their children as plants in the garden of God, and entrusted to their care.—Schaubach: The obligations and the blessings of pious parents.—Diedrich: The ever-during blessedness of those who fear God, who do not refuse to labor in His ways, but have found, in this present time, in the knowledge of God’s love, the sweetest and dearest communion.—Taube: The fear of God the source of all prosperity. A God-fearing man has God not merely before his eyes and in his heart, but walks also before Him in His ways. The lines have fallen in pleasant places for him who fears God thus.

[Matt. Henry: The wife’s place is in the husband’s house, there her business lies.—It is pleasant to parents that have a table spread, though but with ordinary fare, to see their children round about it, Job 21:5; to have them at table, to keep up the pleasantness of the table-talk; to have them in health, to have them like olive-plants, straight and green, sucking in the sap of their good education, and likely to become serviceable.—A good man can have little comfort in seeing his children’s children, unless without he sees peace upon Israel, and have hopes of transmitting the entail of religion, pure and entire, to those that shall come after him, for that is the best inheritance.—Bishop Horne: The good of Jerusalem with peace upon Israel, is all the good we can expect to see upon earth. Hereafter we shall see greater things than these.—Barnes: No higher blessing could be promised to a good man … than that he should die in a revival of religion.—J. F. M.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 128:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-128.html. 1857-84.

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