Summary: 1) Blessing Announced (Psalm 128:1), 2) Blessing Described (Psalm 128:2–4), 3) Blessing Pronounced (Psalm 128:5–6).
If you were to think of the picture of an ideal man, what would that look like. Would he be rugged, strong, brave and fearless? A quality like fear, is one of those factors that nobody desires. But what about in the sphere of relating to God?
The idea of fearing God has vanished from our worldview. We suppose that it is left over from the Middle Ages. Some Christians have taught the monstrous opinion that the God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath and that the God of the New Testament is a God of love. Not only does this destroy the very idea of the covenant, which is based on grace, but it casts a dark shadow upon Judaism and the whole foundation for the Christian faith. This opinion also fails before the facts. Jesus often warned of God’s judgment that is to come. He prophesied the destruction of the temple as a sign of the end (Mark 13:1ff.). The rest of the New Testament joins Him in witnessing to God’s wrath as well as to His grace. In fact, we only can understand this grace in light of His wrath. We need to learn to fear God. Such a disposition is not only biblical; it is also healthy. It is healthy to fear the judge who can sentence us to prison. It is healthy to fear the soldier who can invade our territory and plunder our goods. It is healthy to fear God who can send us to hell. The man who through wisdom knows what to fear and what not to fear has a life in healthy balance.
Psalm 128 calls the person who fears God “blessed.” Commentators describe this psalm as a wisdom psalm. It is one of the fifty anonymous psalms. It is the ninth of the fifteen “Songs of Degrees” (Psalms 120–134). (Gingrich, R. E. (1995). The Book of Psalms (Book Five) (29). Memphis, TN.: Riverside Printing.)
This anonymous psalm was probably composed during the postexilic period to encourage the members of the community at a time when there was much to dishearten (Smith, J. E. (1996). The wisdom literature and Psalms (Ps 128). Joplin, Mo.: College Press Pub. Co.).
The reason why many become discouraged, is because they look for encouragement from a fleeting source. This Psalm directs the man, and as extension, all wise people, who fear God and show compassion to others that they shall be blessed. It clarifies for the father and the rest of the household where true encouragement and happiness lay. In Psalm 128:1-6 we see the 1) Blessing Announced (Psalm 128:1) the 2) Blessing Described (Psalm 128:2–4) and it concludes with the 3) Blessing Pronounced (Psalm 128:5–6).
1) Blessing Announced (Psalm 128:1)
Psalm 128:1 [128:1]Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! (ESV)
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, both here and in the life to come. (Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms (Pbk. ed.) (1123). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books )
Please turn back to Psalm 112 (p.509)
In verse 1 the blessing of God is announced for “everyone who fears the LORD.” The word “blessed” is written in the plural, denoting a sense of fullness. It means “happy,” giving us “well-being.” It comes with the good news of God’s favor upon us. Those who are blessed are those who fear God.
Psalm 112:1-6 [112:1] Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever. Light dawns in the darkness for the upright; he is gracious, merciful, and righteous. It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. (ESV)
This fear means a sense of awe and reverence before God’s majesty. It presupposes that He is the sovereign King, reigning in glory, who holds all of the issues of our lives in His hands. What does it mean to fear the Lord? It is customary to say, when Bible teachers are talking about the fear of the Lord, that fear does not mean being afraid. The intent of the word is reverence or respect. Yet Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary calls respect “a profound reverence or awe, especially toward God” (italics added), therefore fear, at least in the sense of holy awe, is not far from what we are talking about as a proper God-directed attitude. God must be taken seriously. He must not be trifled with. He is not merely the first thing of our to-do list, but He must be, as he actually is, the center of everything we are, think, or aspire to do. He must be our starting point for every project, the strength we seek for every valuable endeavor, the one we earnestly desire to please and honor as our goal. There is no point at which the profound difference between the world and those who are truly God’s people is more radical than here. For those who think as the world does, God is a plaything of the mind and spiritual realities are mere “God-talk.” For the world the only meaningful reality is what can be seen, felt, and measured by the senses. In other words, rather than being spiritual in their thinking, the people of the world are secularists, particularly in our day. “Secular” comes from the Latin word saeculum, meaning “this age.” So people who are secular, as opposed to being spiritual, are people whose mental boundaries are limited by this place and time (Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms (Pbk. ed.) (1125). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books.).