Matthew Henry Complete CommentaryPsalms 128
on the Whole Bible
This, as the former, is a psalm for families. In that we were taught
that the prosperity of our families depends upon the blessing of God;
in this we are taught that the only way to obtain that blessing which
will make our families comfortable is to live in the fear of God and in
obedience to him. Those that do so, in general, shall be blessed
I. They shall be prosperous and successful in their employments,
II. Their relations shall be agreeable,
III. They shall live to see their families brought up,
IV. They shall have the satisfaction of seeing the church of God in a
We must sing this psalm in the firm belief of this truth, That religion
and piety are the best friends to outward prosperity, giving God the
praise that it is so and that we have found it so, and encouraging
ourselves and others with it.
|Blessedness of the Godly.
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 as 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
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
It is here shown that godliness has the promise of the life that now is
and of that which is to come.
I. It is here again and again laid down as an undoubted truth that
those who are truly holy are truly happy. Those whose blessed
state we are here assured of are such as fear the Lord and
walk in his ways, such as have a deep reverence of God upon
their spirits and evidence it by a regular and constant conformity to
his will. Where the fear of God is a commanding principle in the heart
the tenour of the conversation will be accordingly; and in vain do we
pretend to be of those that fear God if we do not make conscience both
of keeping to his ways and not trifling in them or drawing back. Such
and shall be blessed,
God blesses them, and his pronouncing them blessed makes them so. They
are blessed now, they shall be blessed still, and for ever. This
blessedness, arising from this blessing, is here secured,
1. To all the saints universally: Blessed is everyone that fears the
Lord, whoever he be; in every nation he that fears God and works
righteousness is accepted of him, and therefore is blessed whether he
be high or low, rich or poor, in the world; if religion rule him, it
will protect and enrich him.
2. To such a saint in particular: Thus shall the man be blessed,
not only the nation, the church in its public capacity, but the
particular person in his private interests.
3. We are encouraged to apply it to ourselves
"Happy shalt thou be; thou mayest take the comfort of the
promise, and expect the benefit of it, as if it were directed to thee
by name, if thou fear God and walk in his ways. Happy shalt thou
be, that is, It shall be well with thee; whatever befals
thee, good shall be brought out of it; it shall be well with thee while
thou livest, better when thou diest, and best of all to eternity." It
with a note commanding attention: Behold, thus shall the man be
blessed; behold it by faith in the promise; behold it by
observation in the performance of the promise; behold it with assurance
that it shall be so, for God is faithful, and with admiration that it
should be so, for we merit no favour, no blessing, from him.
II. Particular promises are here made to godly people, which they may
depend upon, as far as is for God's glory and their good; and that is
1. That, by the blessing of God, they shall get an honest livelihood
and live comfortably upon it. It is not promised that they shall live
at ease, without care or pains, but, Thou shalt eat the labour of
thy hands. Here is a double promise,
(1.) That they shall have something to do (for an idle life is a
miserable uncomfortable life) and shall have health, and strength, and
capacity of mind to do it, and shall not be forced to be beholden to
others for necessary food, and to live, as the disabled poor do, upon
the labours of other people. It is as much a mercy as it is a duty
with quietness to work and eat our own bread,
2 Thess. 3:12.
(2.) That they shall succeed in their employments, and they and theirs
shall enjoy what they get; others shall not come and eat the bread out
of their mouths, nor shall it be taken from them either by oppressive
rulers or invading enemies. God will not blast it and blow upon it (as
and his blessing will make a little go a great way. It is very
pleasant to enjoy the fruits of our own industry; as the sleep, so the
food, of a labouring man is sweet.
2. That they shall have abundance of comfort in their family-relations.
As a wife and children are very much a man's care, so, if by the grace
of God they are such as they should be, they are very much a man's
delight, as much as any creature-comfort.
(1.) The wife shall be as a vine by the sides of the
house, not only as a spreading vine which serves for an ornament,
but as a fruitful vine which is for profit, and with the fruit whereof
both God and man are honoured,
The vine is a weak and tender plant, and needs to be supported and
cherished, but it is a very valuable plant, and some think (because all
the products of it were prohibited to the Nazarites) it was the tree
of knowledge itself. The wife's place is the husband's house; there
her business lies, and that is her castle. Where is Sarah thy wife?
Behold, in the tent; where should she be else? Her place is by
the sides of the house, not under-foot to be trampled on, nor yet
upon the house-top to domineer (if she be so, she is but as the
grass upon the house-top, in the next psalm), but on the side of
the house, being a rib out of the side of the man. She shall be a
loving wife, as the vine, which cleaves to the house-side, an obedient
wife, as the vine, which is pliable, and grows as it is directed. She
shall be fruitful as the vine, not only in children, but in the fruits
of wisdom, and righteousness, and good management, the branches
of which run over the wall
like a fruitful vine, not cumbering the ground, nor bringing
forth sour grapes, or grapes of Sodom, but good fruit.
(2.) The children shall be as olive plants, likely in
time to be olive-trees, and, though wild by nature, yet grafted
into the good olive, and partaking of its root and fatness,
It is pleasant to parents who have a table spread, though but with
ordinary fare, to see their children round about it, to have many
children, enough to surround it, and those with them, and not
scattered, or the parents forced from them. Job makes it one of the
first instances of his former prosperity that his children were
Parents love to have their children at table, to keep up the
pleasantness of the table-talk, to have them in health, craving food
and not physic, to have them like olive-plants, straight and
green, sucking in the sap of their good education, and likely in due
time to be serviceable.
3. That they shall have those things which God has promised and which
they pray for: The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion, where the
ark of the covenant was, and where the pious Israelites attended with
their devotions. Blessings out of Zion are the best-blessings,
which flow, not from common providence, but from special grace,
4. That they shall live long, to enjoy the comforts of the rising
generations: "Thou shalt see thy children's children, as Joseph,
Thy family shall be built up and continued, and thou shalt have the
pleasure of seeing it." Children's children, if they be good
children, are the crown of old men
who are apt to be fond of their grandchildren.
5. That they shall see the welfare of God's church, and the land of
their nativity, which every man who fears God is no less concerned for
than for the prosperity of his own family. "Thou shalt be blessed in
Zion's blessing, and wilt think thyself so. Thou shalt see the good
of Jerusalem as long as thou shalt live, though thou shouldest live
long, and shalt not have thy private comforts allayed and embittered by
public troubles." A good man can have little comfort in seeing his
children's children, unless withal he see peace upon Israel, and have
hopes of transmitting the entail of religion pure and entire to those
that shall come after him, for that is the best inheritance.