Today’s Chocolate: Theo Organic 70% Dark Chocolate w/ Coconut
Today’s Passage: Psalm 128
This is a psalm about how good things come to everyone who fears the Lord. When you follow his will, you enjoy the delicious fruit of obedience. Your wife and kids will also prosper, all you people who fear the Lord. Moreover, the psalmist hopes that the prosperity of Jerusalem will be your constant companion from cradle to grave, and that you will even live to see your grandkids. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, everyone! Even the ladies!
I am, of course, using humor to make a point. But when I read “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine within your house, your children like olive plants around your table” (128:3), I thought: what about the women? Do the women get their own psalm too, about how good their lives are when they fear God and walk with him? What about all the single ladies (all the single ladies)? I don’t have kids, unless you count this blog. What happens to me, an unmarried dude who is raising comics and devotionals and Youtube Let’s Plays instead of raising children, because I think that’s what God is calling me to do right now?
I guess all of this is to say that this psalm is as ancient and Jewish as they come. And when I’m done railing about where are the psalms for the women, I guess I can admit that being ancient and Jewish is not a bad thing to be. We write from our culture, and what blessing looked like to the psalmist was familial prosperity led by patriarchs, specifically in Jerusalem and the Jewish kingdom. How will God bless you and me when we walk with him and follow his leadership? Will he give our home nations peace (128:6)? Will he give us a biological lineage of babies upon babies? The only way to find out is to start walking and do the thing. And I think it’s important to note that there are some blessings God confers on us regardless of whether we obey his commandments. Forgiveness and new life in Jesus Christ free of charge come readily to mind.
And all this stuff I’m talking about is a function of the way we use the word “everybody.” Louis CK opens one of his shows with a bit about this phenomenon: “Thank you very much, everybody. I mean everybody who’s here. That’s not everybody. Most people are not here, by a huge majority. Most people are in China. That’s actually not true, most people are dead.” And–well, first, it’s hilarious, and second, it illustrates how we talk about groups. When your waiter asks, “Is everybody ready to order?” they don’t care about people in other restaurants, they’re addressing their question to your table. We understand who “everybody” entails, based on context.
When the psalmist says, “How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord” (128:1), I believe that encompasses every human being who fears the Lord. But what form will that take? The psalmist enumerates it for the males of ancient Judea–but for you and me, if we walk in his ways, God only knows what good things he has in store for us.