Do me a favor and please read Psalm 128.
Our psalm is a simple one: all those who fear the Lord are blessed by him. Fear as we obediently follow, fear as we worship, fear as we learn from him, and fear as we receive from him. But what’s really interesting is that all the “blessings” received have to do with what we could consider “domestic” and “relational” blessings from God. And I know that we’ve covered “blessings” from God as a topic quite a bit (even last weeks with psalm 127) but none of them had to do with domestic things and so in that situation Psalm 128 somewhat stands alone.
I definitely count it as a “blessing” to have what I have in life. I have a job that I adore and serve a church and community that I love tremendously. We have enough money coming in to where we are able to pay for our needs and then be able to tuck a little aside for fun events or for when yet another bill comes in that wasn’t “planned for.” I definitely feel it as a blessing to have my health no matter what struggles I have and it is a blessing to simply love and serve in the ways I’ve been able to. But in truth? You could take my job away and I’d still feel blessed. You could remove my ability to have money and able to set some aside and I’d still feel blessed. My own health could tank and I would still feel “blessed” by God. But my family or community of friends being removed? Not having the support of my wife, my kids, my parents, my sister and her family and my in-laws as well as all my friends? I could be the richest person in the world and feel utterly lost without my relationships. For me, I find the peace of Psalm 128 in that to be “blessed” is to fear God and then in return to be “blessed” by God is to have family.
What our psalmist is doing is encouraging people to understand what they have in relation to God. Does that mean that only happiness happens with having a spouse and kids? Well, yes and no. Having a wonderful and fruitful marriage should be a blessing and having kids and being around to see them grow and then watching your own grandkids grow should be a blessing. But he’s not saying that this is the ONLY blessing that comes upon us. It’s all about community, family, and relationships. Our author declares that from your wife, to your kids, to JEREUSALEM…it’s about the people in your life. But hold up! What does having to “fear the Lord” have to do with family, community, and relationships?
Here’s where I’m led: when you have a right relationship with God (one based on “fear” and “obedience”) then your relationships with others will be blessed because they take on a different feeling and meaning. Our relationship with God trickles down to ALL of our relationships.
I am a better husband when I understand Christ and his love, dedication, and sacrifice to the Church (in which he called his “bride”). I love and serve my wife better, have a better relationship with her, and treat her better when I live like Christ did for his bride. I am a better father to my kids when I live a life of dependence, communication, respect, fear, and love of God the Father. And so when I spend time with him more, when I pray to him more and understand him as my Father then that relationship trickles down to my own children and I become a better father to them. I treat my own parents better when I see how Christ loved, respected, and cherished his own Father. I treat the church better, my neighbors better, my friends better when I try to live a “Christ-like” life of service, love, hospitality, dedication, appreciation, and hope to all of them. When I think of how Jesus thought of us instead of him? Then I begin to reflect that thought process in my relationships too. Because how can we not be affected by God when we are in a right relationship with him?
To “fear the Lord” isn’t about cowering in the corner at a scary monster in the sky. To “fear the Lord” means to love, appreciate, understand, and have a relationship with him. So when we “fear the Lord” we begin to have his blessings upon our community-relational-life because we begin to treat others as He treats us. And so just as our Triune God is relational (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), just as he created us to be relational as well (we are created in his image), those blessings of God rain down upon us as we are relational with one another. And when we do that? When we live a life of relationships and see their need in our life and blessings? Then we ARE blessed.
The challenge for you and I? We need to remember that our “family” is bigger than our blood. When we live THAT life, when we understand family much wider than we currently see it, then we truly begin to live a life of Christ as we “welcome the stranger”, “serve the hurting”, “mend wounds”, and love every person on this beautiful earth as God does.