Fear of losing the close walk with the Lord

Psalm 128

Tuesday, January 16

The blessings of a close walk with the Lord.

1  Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him.

  • “Who walk in obedience to Him” or literally, “who walk in His ways”. The parallel expression is a helpful definition of a phrase “fear the Lord” that can be difficult for us.
  • This psalm may have been the truth that Jesus later developed in his parable of two builders, Matt. 7:24-27.

2  You will eat the fruit of your labour; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

  • Four blessings are defined: provisions, prosperity, partner and progeny.

3  Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.

  • Vines for wine and olives for oil were the staples of existence.
  • In Hebrew thought, family and community are closely aligned. So a blessing on the family, or families, means the whole community knowing God’s blessing.

4 Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord.

  • Put simply, this psalm is declaring that the continuing blessing of God will be on those who fear Him, wherever they are, Psalm 133, from His dwelling in Zion.

5  May the Lord bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life.

  • The idea is that experiencing blessing comes from sojourning in Zion – being rooted in the place of the Lord’s dwelling, with attention on Him and His ways, even if dwelling some distance away from Jerusalem.
  • The Lord was seen to be enthroned in Zion, Psalm 9:11, Psalm 20:2, Psalm 135:21. The prosperity of Jerusalem meant secure relationship with God and (as a consequence) secure national existence.

6  May you live to see your children’s children – a peace be on Israel.

Application

Judaism put a lot of emphasis on the connection between obedience and God’s blessing.

Without a personal Saviour to turn to and trust, obedience becomes the element, rather than one of the elements. Unfortunately, Christianity has often over-emphasised fear of God as in fear of punishment and legalistic obedience and religiosity in ways that deny the grace that is central to the gospel.

An aspect of fear of the Lord, is the fear of lapsing into independence from the Lord. Sin, at its most essential, is independence. The “fear of the Lord” which is “walking in obedience to Him” is the oppositie of that tendency to independence.

In Judaism, there is the concept of earning salvation, and of sanctions (sacrifices) for sin, both known and assumed. Christianity turns this on its head at the Cross. Guilt and shame and struck out. So is merit and entitlement. Grace, the undeserved favour of God, is what we find for us at the Cross, where the price was paid. However, our response to this is surely to revere God, want to walk with God and follow His ways. Perhaps the best way to understand this is the transformation that takes place when we give ourselves to Jesus, and the greater facility to be like Jesus that comes from our willingness to be continually filled again with His Spirit, and experience His love. At this point, we will be motivated and guided to walk a close walk – who would not want to walk closely to such love – and to do what is right in God’s sight – releasing His blessings into our lives. He will still at times surprise us by blessing against all expectation (or merit) just because He loves us. And because He loves those who do not yet know Him, and likes to surprise them that way.

Discussion starter

2.  How does the idea of being rooted in Zion – “may the Lord bless you from Zion” – translate into life in the Spirit and in Christ Jesus? Think of the separation we sometimes make between spiritual life in church and the world of work, family, leisure time, travelling etc.


Also published on Medium.

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