Blessing Comes from Zion: Psalm 128


Psalm 128

 

1 Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
    who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
    you shall be blessed, and it shall be 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.


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4 Behold, 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!

  

Reality Doesn’t Live Up to the Promise

Psalm 128 is a poem of admonition that discusses the happy family life enjoyed by those who fear the Lord. The whole psalm overflows with blessings from beginning to end. It paints a picture of a beautiful and happy family, and leads us to yearn for a good life such as the one it depicts. The reason for this good life is made clear in the first verse: “Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways!” The “fear of the Lord” means we have a good personal relationship with God. Our relationship with God affects our futures: as individuals, as families, and even as an entire country.

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“Our relationship with God affects our futures: as individuals, as families, and even as an entire country.

Let’s consider some of the issues we encounter today in light of these verses. We begin with the personal: verse 2 talks about the impact our job has on us. We expect that, if we work diligently and hard, we will be rewarded and will be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The past year or two has shown me that no matter how hard we work, when the pandemic hit and we faced strict lockdowns, the fruit of our labor became a moot point. Many small businesses closed down, some people lost their jobs, and others lost income. We were forced to worry if there were any guarantees at all about the future. Even though we still worked hard during the last year or two, we were not able to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Now we turn to the verses about family. In verse 3, the psalmist uses the analogy of the grapevine and the olive tree because both of these are lush, fruit-bearing plants which are commonly used to symbolize a prosperous family with many children and grandchildren. The psalmist shows us a blessed scene, as children and grandchildren happily gather about his knees. But for those of us living now, the one-child policy of 20 years ago or the financial pressures of raising children today has rendered having children as burdens. Some of us have health problems, which have led us to have only one child. Others among us suffer from the pain of choosing not to have children, or struggle with an inability to have children. Some sisters have chosen to serve the Lord with their singleness and not having a family. Taken altogether, it seems this blessed vision of living together happily with children and grandchildren has become an unrealistic and extravagant hope.

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“It seems this blessed vision of living together happily with children and grandchildren has become an unrealistic and extravagant hope.

Finally, let’s talk about our nation. The psalmist ends this poem by saying, “Peace be upon Israel!” (v. 6) We desire peace in our country, but the reality is contrary to our desire. We live under a regime that persecutes the church. From the top (officials who have no guarantee that they can hold onto their job) to the bottom (ordinary people who fear losing their jobs, their houses, or their cars), none of the people experience peace. What is more, the returned city of Hong Kong has no room for freedom; across the Taiwan Straits looms the threat of military reunification; and our neighboring countries arm themselves to defend against us. All of these realities reveal that we have no peace. Even Christians are inevitably affected as we live within this larger environment, and asked, “Where is peace?”

A Future Hope

But when we again read the entire psalm, our hearts can be comforted. The psalmist has clearly revealed that the key to solving this host of problems is to “fear the Lord” and to establish a good relationship with him. Blessing comes from Zion:

“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:6)

“Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.” (Psalm 14:7)

“The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.” (Romans 11:26)

God sent Jesus into our sin-ridden, broken, wicked, and fallen world. On the cross, he brought us the grace of salvation and gave us hope of a future glory. His finished work of salvation shows us God’s gracious mercy and righteous judgment. We can go to him to repent and confess our sins; we can draw near to him and trust him. Through Jesus, we have fellowship with God and experience his presence.

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“The psalmist has clearly revealed that the key to solving this host of problems is to ‘fear the Lord’ and to establish a good relationship with him. Blessing comes from Zion.

We no longer need to worry about the security of our personal lives, for “the Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” (Ps. 16:5) 

Those who do not have families or children can freely enter the family made up of the bloodline of Jesus: “For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

We no longer have a narrow, nationalistic worldview, because our hope is not in this earthly kingdom. Through Jesus, we have entered God’s kingdom, a kingdom where Jesus reigns. Living under his rule we have true happiness and peace. May we all come and draw near to him!

Keziah (a pseudonym) was called to be a preacher in 2002. She studied theology from 2002 to 2006, and then returned to her coastal city of southeastern China to pastor.

 

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, our Savior Jesus Christ, comfort our hearts in this troubled world. God. Please help us remember to rely on you, not our own abilities or talents in our labors. May we be satisfied with what you have given us, and not be driven by the values of the world to earn more for ourselves. Change our mindset, that we may work for you and not for ourselves, for you are the Lord of our lives, and we trust you will provide what we need. As Christian parents, let us raise our children according to your teaching and work hard for their salvation. May those without children or families receive many spiritual children through evangelism, and experience the real joys and sorrows of raising children through the life growth of their spiritual children.

When we look at the country we live in, we know that only under the reign of Jesus do we have blessedness. Therefore, O Lord, raise up more preachers with a burden to plant new churches; expand your kingdom by planting churches wherever you lead. Bring people to Christ and train them to become followers of Jesus Christ. May someone preach the gospel of peace in every corner of our country!

May the Lord hear our prayers and fulfill our hearts’ desires in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

   


We are using the Psalms to guide our prayers for China

In 2022, our prayer movement is turning to the scriptural prayers found in the Psalms as we pray for the Chinese church. When you join our prayer movement, you will receive weekly prayer emails and a monthly newsletter so that you too can pray for our brothers and sisters in China.

  

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Further Reading

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LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA

With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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ABOUT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

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Shenyang is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Liaoning Province. It is known for its rich history and cultural heritage, including the Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Shenyang is also a hub for China’s heavy industry, with companies such as the China First Automobile Group and the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation having their headquarters in the city.

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Qingdao is a city located in eastern China and is famous for its beaches, beer, and seafood. The city is home to several landmarks, including the Zhanqiao Pier and the Badaguan Scenic Area. Qingdao is also a major port and has a thriving economy, with industries such as electronics, petrochemicals, and machinery.

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About Xiamen

Xiamen is a city located in southeastern China and is a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful coastal scenery, including Gulangyu Island, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is also a hub for China’s high-tech industry, with companies such as Huawei and ZTE having research and development centers in Xiamen.

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Nanjing is a city located in eastern China and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. It is one of China’s ancient capitals and has a rich cultural history, including the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Nanjing City Wall, and the Confucius Temple. Nanjing is also a modern city with a thriving economy and is home to several universities, including Nanjing University and Southeast University.

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About Changchun

Changchun is a city located in northeastern China and is the capital of Jilin Province. It is known for its rich cultural heritage and is home to several historical landmarks such as the Puppet Emperor’s Palace and the Jingyuetan National Forest Park. Changchun is also a hub for China’s automotive industry, with several major automobile manufacturers having their headquarters in the city.

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About Guangzhou

Guangzhou, also known as Canton, is a city located in southern China and is the capital of Guangdong Province. It is one of the country’s largest and most prosperous cities, serving as a major transportation and trading hub for the region. Guangzhou is renowned for its modern architecture, including the Canton Tower and the Guangzhou Opera House, as well as its Cantonese cuisine, which is famous for its variety and bold flavors. The city also has a rich history, with landmarks such as the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. Additionally, Guangzhou hosts the annual Canton Fair, the largest trade fair in China.

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Kunming is a city located in southwest China and is the capital of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its mild climate, Kunming is a popular tourist destination due to its natural beauty and cultural diversity. The city is home to several scenic spots, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stone Forest, Dian Lake, and the Western Hills. Kunming is also famous for its unique cuisine, which features a mix of Han, Yi, and Bai ethnic flavors. The city has a rich cultural history, with ancient temples and shrines like the Yuantong Temple and the Golden Temple, and it’s also a hub for Yunnan’s ethnic minority cultures, such as the Yi and Bai peoples.

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About Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a city located in southeastern China and is one of the country’s fastest-growing metropolises. The city is renowned for its thriving tech industry, with companies such as Huawei, Tencent, and DJI having their headquarters in Shenzhen. The city also has a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums, art galleries, and parks. Shenzhen is also known for its modern architecture, such as the Ping An Finance Center and the Shenzhen Bay Sports Center. Despite its modernization, Shenzhen also has a rich history and cultural heritage, with landmarks such as the Dapeng Fortress and the Chiwan Tin Hau Temple.

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About Chengdu

Chengdu is a city located in the southwestern region of China, and the capital of Sichuan province. It has a population of over 18 million people, and it is famous for its spicy Sichuan cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, and its cute and cuddly residents – the giant pandas. Chengdu is home to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, where visitors can observe these adorable creatures in their natural habitat. The city also boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous temples, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout its boundaries. Chengdu is a city of contrasts, with ancient traditions coexisting alongside modern developments, making it an intriguing and fascinating destination for visitors to China. 

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