|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
128:1-6 The blessings of those who fear God. - Only those who are truly holy, are truly happy. In vain do we pretend to be of those that fear God, if we do not make conscience of keeping stedfastly to his ways. Blessed is every one that fears the Lord; whether he be high or low, rich or poor in the world. If thou fear him and walk in his ways, all shall be well with thee while thou livest, better when thou diest, best of all in eternity. By the blessing of God, the godly shall get an honest livelihood. Here is a double promise; they shall have something to do, for an idle life is a miserable, uncomfortable life, and shall have health and strength, and power of mind to do it. They shall not be forced to live upon the labours of other people. It is as much a mercy as a duty, with quietness to work and eat our own bread. They and theirs shall enjoy what they get. Such as fear the Lord and walk in his ways, are the only happy persons, whatever their station in life may be. They shall have abundant comfort in their family relations. And they shall have all the good things God has promised, and which they pray for. A good man can have little comfort in seeing his children's children, unless he sees peace upon Israel. Every true believer rejoices in the prosperity of the church. Hereafter we shall see greater things, with the everlasting peace and rest that remain for the Israel of God.
Verse 1. - Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord (comp. Psalm 112:1; Psalm 115:13); that walketh in his ways. The psalmist assumes that true religious fear of God, and a good and holy life, will necessarily go together. The point on which he wishes to insist is that on every such case will rest God's blessing.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord,.... Be he who he will; of whatsoever nation, Jew or Gentile; of whatsoever sex, age, or condition, high or low, rich or poor, Acts 10:35; such an one is blessed now, and will be hereafter; See Gill on Psalm 112:1;
that walketh in his ways: which God has prescribed and directed his people to walk in, his ordinances and commands; which, to walk in, is both pleasant and profitable: it supposes life, requires strength and wisdom; and is expressive of progression, or going on and continuance in them: and where the true fear of God is, which includes every grace, and the whole of religious worship, there will be a conscientious regard to the ways of God: such avoid evil, and do good, because of the fear of God, Job 1:1.
The Treasury of David
1 Blessed is everyone that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.
2 For thou shalt eat the labour 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 sides 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.
"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord." The last Psalm ended with a blessing, - for the word there translated "happy" is the same as that which is here rendered "blessed"' thus the two songs are joined by a catch-word. There is also in them a close community of subject. The fear of God is the corner-stone of all blessedness. We must reverence the ever-blessed God before we can be blessed ourselves. Some think that this life is an evil, an infliction, a thing upon which rests a curse; but it is not so, the God-fearing man has a present blessing resting upon him. It is not true that it would be to him "something better not to be." He is happy now, for he is the child of the happy God, the ever-living Jehovah; and he is even here a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, whose heritage is not misery, but joy. This is true of every one of the God-fearing, of all conditions, in all ages: each one and every one is blessed. Their blessedness may not always be seen by carnal reason, but it is always a fact, for God himself declares that it is so; and we know that those whom he blesses are blessed indeed. Let us cultivate that holy filial fear of Jehovah which is the essence of all true religion; - the fear of reverence, of dread to offend, of anxiety to please, and of entire submission and obedience. This fear of the Lord is the fit fountain of holy living, we look in vain for holiness apart from it: none but those who fear the Lord will ever walk in his ways.
"That walketh in his ways." The religious life, which God declares to be blessed, must be practical as well as emotional. It is idle to talk of fearing the Lord if we act like those who have no care whether there be a God or no. God's ways will be our ways if we have a sincere reverence for him: if the heart is joined unto God, the feet will follow hard after him. A man's heart will be seen in his walk, and the blessing will come where heart and walk are both with God. Note that the first Psalm links the benediction with the walk in a negative way, "Blessed is the man that walketh not," etc.; but here we find it in connection with the positive form of our conversation. To enjoy the divine blessing we must be active, and walk; we must be methodical, and walk in certain ways; and we must be godly, and walk in the Lord's ways. God's ways are blessed ways; they were cast up by the Blessed One, they were trodden by him in whom we are blessed, they are frequented by the blessed, they are provided with means of blessing, they are paved with present blessings, and they lead to eternal blessedness: who would not desire to walk in them?
"For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands." The general doctrine of Psalm 128:1 here receives a personal application note the change to the second person - "thou shalt eat," etc. This is the portion of God's saints, - to work, and to find a reward in so doing. God is the God of labourers. We are not to leave our worldly callings because the Lord has called us by grace, we are not promised a blessing upon romantic idleness or unreasonable dreaming, but upon hard work and honest industry. Though we are in God's hands we are to be supported by our own hands. He will give us daily bread, but it must be made our own by labour. All kinds of labour are here included; for if one toils by the sweat of his brow, and another does so by the sweat of his brain, there is no difference in the blessing; save that it is generally more healthy to work with the body than with the mind only. Without God it would be vain to labour; but when we are labourers together with God a promise is set before us. The promise is that labour shall be fruitful, and that he who performs it shall himself enjoy the recompense of it. It is a grievous ill for a man to slave his life away and receive no fair remuneration for his toil, as a rule, God's servants rise out of such bondage and claim their own, and receive it: at any rate, this verse may encourage them to do so. "The labourer is worthy of his hire." Under the Theocracy the chosen people could see this promise literally fulfilled; but when evil rulers oppressed them their earnings were withheld by churls, and their harvests were snatched away from them by marauders. Had they walked in the fear of the Lord they would never have known such great evils. Some men never enjoy their labour, for they give themselves no time for rest. Eagerness to get takes from them the ability to enjoy. Surely, if it is worth while to labour, it is worth while to eat of that labour. "Happy shalt thou be," or, Oh, thy happiness. Heaped up happinesses in the plural belong to that man who fears the Lord. He is happy, and he shall be happy in a thousand ways. The context leads us to expect family happiness. Our God is our household God. The Romans had their Lares and Penates, but we have far more than they in the one only living and true God. "And it shall be well with thee," or good for thee. Yes, good is for the good; and it shall be well with those who do well.
"What cheering words are these!
Their sweetness who can tell?
In time, and to eternal days,
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 128:1-6. The temporal blessings of true piety. The eighth chapter of Zecariah is a virtual commentary on this Psalm. Compare Ps 128:3 with Zec 8:5; and Ps 128:2 with Le 26:16; De 28:33; Zec 8:10; and Ps 128:6 with Zec 8:4.
1. (Compare Ps 1:1).
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