Psalm 128: Blessed


“You’ve worked hard and deserve all you’ve got coming,” is the translation of verse 2 of Psalm 128 in The Message. It sounds like the theme song for seniors in our country. We feel we have worked hard all of our life and now deserve to reap the benefits of that labor. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

Right now my husband and I are dealing with a nightmare related to Medicare and some obscure law that no-one knew about, much less told him about. It seems he worked hard all of his life, did everything he was supposed to do, dotted his i’s and crossed his t’s when he reached 65, only to be put through a bureaucratic grinder to which there appears to be no end. I know we are not the only ones to experience such nightmares when dealing with health insurance and government programs.

Fortunately, happiness is not determined by the government or we’d all be in trouble.

So what constitutes blessedness? Who are the ones that are truly blessed in this life?

When asked what was necessary for happiness, Freud didn’t give us a long philosophical discourse. He said “Love and work… work and love, that’s all there is.” He may very well have been referring to this week’s psalm.

Another wisdom psalm, Psalm 128’s focus, like Psalm 127, is that happiness comes from fear of the Lord—reverence or awe before our God. “Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!” (1) And how does the psalmist define blessed? Love and work.

It’s a simple formula, rooted in the everyday. “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.” (2) Happiness comes from work and enjoying the benefits that come from work, food to eat, a place to live. And it comes from love, from family, “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Lo, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.” (3-4)

There is one more aspect to this blessedness for the Hebrew nation—their country will prosper, “May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!” (5b) And finally, they will see their family line continue to the next generation, “May you see your children’s children!” (6a)

A simple recipe for happiness: work, love and community. Certainly, we are blessed who have enough to eat, a home to live in, people to share our blessings with, and a community to which we belong.

Despite any difficulties I encounter along the way, I consider myself blessed. What about you?

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