Prosperity and suffering.
It is often easier to read songs about prosperity like this than it is to read songs ranting about injustice or laments, at least it is for some people. For other people it is the other way round, they are living the rants and laments but find the prosperity psalms difficult.
A song of ascents.
1 Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.
2 You will eat the fruit of your labour;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
round your table.
4 Yes, this will be the blessing
for the man who fears the Lord.
5 May the Lord bless you from Zion;
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
6 May you live to see your children’s children –
peace be on Israel.
The Songs of Ascents or Songs of Degrees are calls from the world to God. In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, the Songs of Degrees make up the Eighteenth division of the Psalter and are read on Friday evenings at Vespers throughout the liturgical year.
Enjoy the blessing
Blessed are those… At the top of this blog I mentioned two groups. Those who found the ranting psalms difficult and those who find the prosperity psalms difficult. I used to be part of the former group, but now I’m in the latter.It pivoted on when I became disabled in 2006.
It is easy to think of prosperity as a sign of God’s blessing. Those who are doing well are the ones that God blesses. This psalm is not talking about that, the only prosperity is that of Jerusalem. These psalms belong to a nation, that is important to know to get the context.
The Psalms are the ancient songbook of a people referred to at various times as the Hebrews, Israel and Judah. A people whose existence as a nation started in slavery in Egypt. Songs of freed slaves who became a nation. That nation later had a time in exile, these psalms, the songs of ascents are from a section of psalms compiled after the country had been restored to its land and to its worship of God. This song is a corporate, not individual song.
Look at what has happened recently in India:
India is 10th on the World Watch list for extreme Christian persecution. Christians there gave pandemic aid from Mission India to their neighbours and persecutors. These are the people doing the will of God. These are the people God is blessing.
When God blesses you enjoy the blessing. “Enjoy the blessing, revel in the goodness” says the Bible paraphrase The Message at the end of verse two of this psalm. In a congregation there will be those who are rejoicing and those who are mourning, so let us take part in comforting the distressed and bereaved. And let is all join on with the praises of those who are experiencing God’s blessings.