Discovering God's Favor

Text: Psalm 128

If you have ever been to a weekend marriage or parenting conference, you know there is a lot of information to digest. At the end of the conference the speaker might say, “We have been talking about a lot of things you can do to grow your marriage. But let me summarize what we have been talking about.” The conference leader will then give a list of important things to remember. They are what I like to call “going home lists.” 

Psalm 128 is possibly one of those “going home lists.” Most likely the psalm was sung both “going up” to Jerusalem for one of the annual feasts, and again when the Jewish pilgrims returned home. It was a psalm about the blessing of God in one’s life once a traveler returned to their towns and vocations. Yes, just like modern thinkers, the Jews in the ancient world wanted to know how they could personally gain the favor of God. The answer is embedded in the word “bless” (vv. 1, 2, 4, & 5), and in the phrase “fear the Lord” (vv. 1 & 4).

Lean into Psalm 128 and this is what you will most likely hear:

God's favor will fall on those who fear Him!

There it is: plain, simple, concise, and hopefully easy to recall. That is what the psalms of ascent were intended to do - to foster worship and remembrance. But this psalm poses two important questions that must be answered.

What would we be doing if we were actually living in the fear the LORD?

  • Verse 1b says that the one who fears the LORD “walks in his ways.” That is, we feed on the truth of God and then are intentional about obeying whatever He says. 
  • Be careful here! The “fear of the Lord” is not cowering out of concern that God might strike us dead at any moment. Instead, to fear God is to know what He says, to believe what He says, and then to do whatever He asks of us. 

Let me state that again:

To fear God is to know what He says, to believe what He says, and then do whatever He asks of us. 

How will God favor me if I actually follow through and live in the fear of the Lord? 

  • Before you jump to interpreting this psalm too literally, read the text from the mindset of an ancient Hebrew. Verse 2 states that God will bless the “God-fearer” with the “fruit of one’s labor.” This is most likely a reference to an abundant grape harvest. Verses 3-5 make reference to the blessing of children (using the metaphor of a “fruitful vine” in verse 3).  
  • What about couples who cannot have children for a variety of reasons? Does this mean God is not blessing them? Of course not! Parents in ancient Israel not only loved their children, but they viewed them as necessary resources that kept the agricultural economy moving.


What then are the blessings God will give those who fear him?

  • He will give them success in their vocational lives. 128:2
  • He will give them the resources needed to continue making progress in life. 128:3-4
  • He will give them a long and healthy life. 128:5-6

Psalm 128 is a wisdom psalm. That means it is generally true about life, but there will always be exceptions to the principle presented. You must above all keep in mind that this psalm is for you! Bring it to mind as often as you can.

Do you have access to an audio recording of the Bible? If so, find your way to Psalm 128 and play it on your way to work for the rest of the week. Then play it again on your way home. Every time you listen to the words of this glorious song, remember this:

God's favor will fall on those who fear Him!

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