Psalm 128 begins in a way familiar to the psalter—with the word Blessed. Half a dozen psalms start this way and another thirteen pronounce this desired state of being at some point in their writing. This much should be clear—God is in the business of blessing people! That’s not just what He does—it’s who He is. And one of the many things we can learn from the psalms is to gain insight into the path of blessedness.
This psalm speaks a blessing on “all who fear the Lord” and “walk in obedience to Him.” The fear he refers to is not a cringing, cowering demeanor but rather a holy reverence. The difference is crucial because the latter allows for intimacy while the former doesn’t. And whatever else might be true of the psalms, they point us in the direction of a God who is intimate with His people (Psalm 23, 32, 42, 46, 103, etc.).
“Walk in obedience to Him” probably should be understood as a parallelism (another thing that occurs frequently in the psalms). Thus, the complete thought is that those who display a holy reverence by walking in obedience are blessed. While this is not a new or profound thought, it is a decidedly foundational one that can be found throughout the biblical witness.
In the West where individualism reigns, obedience doesn’t get much positive press. We prefer our movie heroes and heroines, entertainers and celebrities to be rebels and rule breakers. Obedience is boring. A woman in submission to her husband is a Stepford wife and we’ve rationalized that you can somehow be spiritual without following God’s commands. Of course, there’s a powerful, conclusive, one-word rebuttal to this:
The beauty of obedience is not something that can be evaluated from the outside looking in—it can only be fully understood and appreciated by being experienced. Whoever wrote this psalm was undoubtedly an insider and we can fully trust him when he uses the word Blessed to speak of the obedient life. He knows what he is talking about!