Tom Lowe


Psalm 128: Blessed Are All who Walk in His Ways

(A Song of Degrees)

Text: Psalms 128:1-6 (KJV)

  1. {A Song of degrees.}[1] Blessed is every one 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 asas 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.


This psalm is a companion to the previous one or a continuation of it. The main things that we can glean from this psalm may be the following: The welfare of the nation depends on the welfare of the home, and the welfare of the home depends on the spiritual condition of the head of that home. An unspiritual father will often produce unsaved children and unsaved children will build an unstable nation. That is the general principle underlying this psalm. The safety of the nation depends on the sanctity of the home, and the sanctity of the home depends on the spiritually of the parents. No psalm in the Hebrew hymnbook needs to be preached more insistently than this one.


Commentary: Psalms 128

1. {A Song of degrees.} Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

The word blessed is the usual word found throughout the Old Testament. It is in the plural. It is the word for ”happy.” It can be rendered: “Happy, Happy.” “Happy, Happy is every one that feareth the LORD.”

The Lord lays down two conditions for such happiness. To be happy one’s life must have a proper center and a proper circumference.

Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD (128:1a)

If we are to be happy, our life must be centered in the Lord. The fear referred to is not unquestioning fear, but spiritual fear (combining the elements of reverence and trust). If we fear God we shall fear nobody else. With most people, that is about the last thing they would think of when thinking of happiness. People think that money will make them happy or that marriage will make them happy. But happiness is not to be found in marriage or in money, something else is needed; True happiness cannot be divorced from God. Peace, harmony, and order have their center in God. The last thing they think of is that fearing God will make them happy.

When all is said and done, the fact remains that God is the ultimate center of everything. He must also be the center of our lives. There can be no happiness for those who forget this.

The fear of the Lord is the characteristic description of Old Testament religion. The attitude of a true follower of God was an attitude of reverent awe that led him to walk in the ways outlined in the Law.

that walketh in his ways (128:1b)

Our life must have proper boundaries. At its center is the Lord, so its circumference is the law, the limits set by God Himself. Some things are out of bounds. There are some places we should not go, some books we should not read, and some people we should not admire. We must draw the line where God draws the line.

We will find happiness inside the circumference of God’s Word. Outside of it we will find guilt, fear, sorrow, and death. “Blessed is every one that . . . walketh in his ways.” Not our ways, not the ways of a particular crowd, not the ways permitted by a godless, humanistic, sinful society―but the ways spelled out by God. That is the secret of the Lord’s blessing: a proper center and a proper circumference to life.

Notice the psalmist doesn’t say, “Blessed is everyone who has kids.” He says, “Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.” Kids will not automatically bring happiness. But if you walk with the Lord, your kids will follow, and you’ll be blessed.


2. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands (128:2a)

In other words, to borrow the expressive language of the Old Testament prophet Haggai, we will not put our money in a bag with holes (Haggai 1:6). God will take care of our incomes and our expenditures. He will safeguard our savings. He will see that when we plow and plant we shall also reap the harvest. It will not go to the locust, to the capriciousness of nature, to be the spoil of the invader. A bad year will be followed by a good year. He will see to it that we are not left destitute. David could say, “I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Ps. 37:25). The Lord may not give us all we want; He will certainly see we have all we need. Paul puts it this way: “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

That is not to say He will never try us, but God agrees that if we get the center and circumference right, He will take care of everything in between. “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands” was to enjoy a peaceful life, with no marauder to carry off the harvest, and no blight or drought to cause famine.  You shall not be exempted from labor. You shall work; but God will bless and prosper that work, and you and your family shall eat of it. The guarantee, of course, does not underwrite laziness. God does not promise to prosper laziness. Indolence means that we have the center and circumference out of adjustment in our lives.

happy shalt thou be . . . “ (128:2b)

There shall be no guilt, no grudges, no guile, to bring the unhappiness that results, into our lives. Happiness is the most elusive  commodity in this world. People spend their lives pursuing it. The slightest breath of adversity and it withers and dies. It is a plant that blooms best in paradise. On earth it is an exotic transplant, and, ever since the fall, blooms only where the soil of the soul is right.

None of the pleasure-providers in this world can issue an unconditional warranty that their particular recipe will please. But God can and does. He says: “Get the center and circumference right and I will unconditionally guarantee happiness. Everything else is automatic. You take care of the center and circumference, and all the rest is automatic.

I don’t know how He makes it work anymore than I know how an x-ray machine works. I only know that our God controls all the factors of time and space. He sovereignly overrules all the thousands of things that crowd into our daily lives. He controls the changing mosaic of life’s kaleidoscope. That side of it is His concern. He is the one who makes “all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). I have God’s unconditional guarantee that He will take care of my happiness. If I will take care of the center and circumference, He does the rest.

and it shall be well with thee. (128:2c)

Who else can guarantee that? Not only am I going to be happy, but I am going to go on being happy. “It shall be well with thee.” Only an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient God could guarantee that. And, praise His name, for He does just that!

3. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: (128:3a)

There are three things about the vine that illustrate the contented wife of a happy man. The first thing a vine does is to cling. It puts out its tendrils, it takes firm hold of the supporting wall or trellis, and it clings. By denying the mutual interdependence of married partners, our age has defied the circumference drawn by God around sacred things. God knows what is best for a marriage relationship. Both husband and wife are to cleave to each other, the wife clinging to her husband, the husband providing support.

A second thing a vine does is to climb. Once it has found the support it requires, it begins its development to maturity. Its roots go down, its branches go out until it embraces all the space provided for its growth. Given proper protection, given support, given room for growth, soon that vine will cover the wall. It will turn that wall into a thing of beauty, covered with wide green leaves and rich purple grapes. That is God’s idea of an ideal wife.

A third thing a vine does is to cluster. It brings forth fruit in abundance. It richly repays the care and cultivation lavished on it by producing an abundant yield. Children, blessings from God, are a result of the union of marriage.

A godly wife is her husband’s greatest pride and joy. He has given her the support, as she clings to him, that she needs to be secure; he has given her the room she needs to grow, climbing like a healthy vine―growing in grace and increasing in the knowledge of God; they share the joy of producing a cluster of children to raise up for the Lord.

thy children like olive plants round about thy table (128:3b)

The psalmist speaks here of children being like olive plants around a table. Thus do good and affectionate children gather around the table of godly parents, becoming the joy and rejoicing of their hearts, the support and comfort of their old age.

I realize my kids are going to become like me. If I pray, my children will become people who pray. But if I don’t pray, my kids are less likely to pray themselves. Do you want your kids to pray, to witness, to worship? Then you must do those things. Do you want your children to walk with God? Then you walk with God. They’re like olive plants. What you’re doing, they’ll become.

4. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.

God will take care of the fortune, feelings, future and family of the man who puts the Lord as the center of his life and the law as the circumference of his life. The blessing is as sure as God’s guarantee can make it.

As children grow up fearing the Lord, not only are the parents blessed, not only is the community blessed (verse 5), but the entire community is blessed by the contribution they make as adults.


5. The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life.

The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: (128:5a)

We have discovered time and time again in the psalms that Zion stands for the political heart of Jerusalem, the citadel of David, Israel’s tower of London. During the millennial age Zion is to be the center of all political power throughout the length and breadth of the Lord’s world wide empire. He, who held Zion, held the city and the nation. Let a nation’s family life be right and everything else will be right. God will take care of the center of national life. If there is corruption and decay at the center, then all is lost.

In all your approaches to Him in His house by prayer, by sacrifice, and by offering, you shall have His special blessing. You shall thrive everywhere, and in all things.

The Lord promises security at the center if we take care of our center.

“The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion.” The Lord’s deciding issues will be made under the smile and approval of God. What a Word for America in this dark and dangerous hour.

and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem [the welfare of Jerusalem] all the days of thy life. (128;5b)

Jerusalem was the nation’s capitol. Hezekiah and the Jews had seen this principle work in a very practical way during the Assyrian invasion. Hezekiah had taken care of the center and the circumference by endeavoring to bring the nation back to God. God had hurled back their foes. What a message for the nations of the world in this crisis hour! The best defense we have against hostile military power is in God, the God whose name we have stamped on our coins, and whose Word as a nation we have so greatly neglected, ignored, and banished from our schools.


6. Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel.

Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, (128:6a)

Instead of young men being marched away to war, instead of the nation’s youth being slaughtered on the battlefields, they would grow up to have families of their own and live their days in peace. God would defend the land from all its foes.

Hezekiah triumphed over all his testing and troubles. He lived to see Jerusalem safe and secure all the days of his life, as God said. He lived to see a son born and grow to the threshold of manhood. And if he was disappointed in Manasseh’s disinterest in spiritual things, he now had no doubt that God would take care of the royal line. Hezekiah’s great grandson was Josiah, one of the godliest of all the kings.

Long life was one of the blessings most coveted by the people of the Old Testament, in times when premature death often came (Ps 91:8). The tragedies of today’s world are not only the tragedy of dying too soon but also the tragedy of living too long.

and peace upon Israel. (128:6b)

This is the same conclusion as in Psalm 125, and should be translated, “Peace be upon Israel.” The godly man will live to see his grandchildren, and the blessing of peace upon his people.



Special notes and Scripture

[1] A song of degrees (or ascents)―Psalms 120-134 bears this superscription. The meaning of the title is unclear, but many scholars believe it refers to those on pilgrimage ascending the mountain to Jerusalem’s Temple. Perhaps these psalms were collected for those making pilgrimage and were sung at various points along the journey.