Psalm 128: Olive Shoots around the Table

I must admit that I never thought of our four kids as olive shoots as they sat around our table.  In fact when we went looking for a dining table we bought the most sturdy we could find. I can still remember our conversation at the furniture store in a small town outside Albert Lea, Minnesota. At that time we only had two boys. We anticipated they would be more like a quiver full of arrows than olive shoots as described in Psalm 127.  But that’s the way it is when a family has three boys and then adds a girl at the end.

I also thought it imprudent to refer to my wife as a fruitful vine.  But that’s what we have in Psalm 128:3 “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table.”

The psalmist does not wish for wealth, power or prestige.  It’s not interested in “getting ahead.”  In the psalm the good life is envisioned with sufficient resources to enjoy the fruit of one’s own labor.  The image is of a descendant of fallen Adam bending over his hoe dealing with an uncooperative soil.  He who lives in the ways of the Lord will regard with simple joy being able to provide for his family.  The passage stands in contrast to Amos 5:11, “You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.”

A further sign of blessing is a family.  Happiness is sitting with his wife and children around a table enjoying the fruits of his labor and the fruits of his wife’s womb until old age with a vision of grandchildren to enjoy and who will carry on the family name.

The psalmist ends with a blessing, “Peace be upon Israel.”  He hopes that living faithfully in the Lord would bring a repetition of such a scene of well-being throughout the homes and cities of the people.

Prayer: Lord Jesus make your church a fruitful vine, with many sons and daughters who will rejoice with you at your table and celebrate your goodness now and forever.

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