Psalm 128: Bless Us, O Lord

The Psalms are full of images and ideas that are anachronistic to modern readers. Psalm 128 promises men who fear the Lord that they’ll enjoy fertile wives, lots of children, and a peaceful Jerusalem. It is fair to ask: What about women who fear the Lord? What about wives who don’t want to give birth to dozens of babies? What about peace in other places in the world?

These are all valid questions.

Beneath its difficult cultural veneer, though, the heart of this Psalm’s message is “Serve God, work hard, and God will bless you.” Yet even this strikes modern readers the wrong way. Most of us don’t like to ask for God’s blessing. Perhaps we avoid talk of blessings because we want to distance ourselves from the prosperity gospel. Maybe it’s because we (I) live in perhaps the most prosperous time and place in human history. Maybe we have a false humility that doesn’t allow us to consider the God of the universe wanting to give us good things.

Whatever our reservations may be, Psalm 128 is all about God blessing us. I don’t write the Psalms; I just make them singable in a modern context. And singable, this is! The leader sings all the verses while the people sing only four words. The melody is extremely simple; more adept groups may sing it in four parts. I can imagine the song being taught by rote and sung a cappella, though I added a simple accompaniment on this recording.

1. Blessed are those who honor the Lord. Bless us, O Lord. Bless us, O Lord.
Blessed are those who walk with God. Bless us, O Lord. Bless us, O Lord.

Bless us, Lord.
Bless us, Lord.
Bless us, O Lord.
Bless us, O Lord.

2. The work of your hands is its own reward.
The work of your heart is a fruitful home.

3. Blessing will come to those God loves.
Blessing to those who honor God.

4. Lord, may our cities live in peace.
Prosper our days, prolong our years.

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