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Psalm 127-128 – The Blessings of Family and Children

Summary

High on the list of God's blessings is a happy home filled with healthy children.

Analysis

These two psalms speak of the everyday blessings of home, spouse, and children. God cares not only for the cosmos and the nation, but for families as well, anonymous to all but God.

The psalmist speaks in an ancient oriental culture that is generally male-centered, where the fertility of the wife and the gift of many children are particularly highly regarded (127:3-5; 128:3). That culture assumes marriage and children as the norm for all--and, of course, it still is for most people of the world. Children are valued as a blessing from God, a gift especially in times of danger when it would be dangerous to be alone (127:5) and the only real way to achieve "immortality" (128:6). A large family is treasured especially in a time when all members of the family must work to sustain daily life and when disease might easily take children without warning--again, still true for much of the world. In other cultures, like our own, children are still God's blessing, of course, but they are no longer an economic necessity; women have significant roles other than their important place within the family and, for a variety of reasons, many people do not or cannot choose to marry. We will need to "translate" this psalm to address not only familial roles and male concerns, but to remind us that God's care is for the everyday affairs of all, which is surely the case (see, for example, Psalm 113:7-9).


Perhaps in our present busy culture, the psalm's most important reminder is that we "rise up early and go late to rest" in vain, unless we build our lives around the care and call of God (127:1-2).

Psalm 127

God’s Blessings in the Home

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
   those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
   the guard keeps watch in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
   and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
   for he gives sleep to his beloved.*


3 Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
   the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
   are the sons of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has
   his quiver full of them.
He shall not be put to shame
   when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 128

The Happy Home of the Faithful

A Song of Ascents.
1 Happy is everyone who fears the Lord,
   who walks in his ways.
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands;
   you shall be happy, and it shall go well with you.


3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
   within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
   around your table.
4 Thus shall the man be blessed
   who fears the Lord.


5 The Lord bless you from Zion.
   May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
   all the days of your life.
6 May you see your children’s children.
   Peace be upon Israel!

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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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