St Phil’s Editorial -19 Sept 2019

From this week’s bible readings, we read through Psalm 128.

Psalm 128 is a “Song of Ascents” which was sung by the Priests as they ascended to the temple. It is believed that these psalms may also have been sung by families on their visits to the Jerusalem temple as well.

“Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.” (vs1)

To fear the Lord means to revere Him and seek to please Him by obeying His word. And blessing is bestowed on those who fear and obey the Lord. In the OT, the primary focus of this life as God’s people is relationship: we belong and he chooses to bless his people. Blessing, however, is not a reward for obedience – it rests on God’s promises and is an automatic consequence of being in relationship with Him. It is akin to when your parents scolded you by saying “if you live as part of this family then you will live as we do in our house … otherwise you don’t get the benefits of belonging to this household.”

When you read the rest of the Psalm, you will notice that the blessings in the OT come in the form of fertility and are material and physical. For these reflected the ideals of the agricultural society of 1000BC where people struggled for survival, lived close to the bread line, and were victims of barrenness and bereavement. But that is the context in which the people of God were brought into relationship with God, and so received blessing when living in proper relationship with Him.

But in the NT, earthly prosperity no longer seems to be a mark of God’s blessing. The blessings upon a nation racially descended from Abraham, has been transformed by Jesus into a church of all nations, belonging to a heavenly land with heavenly blessings. For the NT people of God are no longer linked to the land of Israel but to Jesus. For example, you can see that when Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount, blessings were now about “receiving mercy” and “seeing God” and being “called children of God”. In the NT, the ultimate and most important blessing is that of belonging to God, being part of His people and a member of His family.

However, like all God’s people throughout the ages, problems arose when the people assumed the blessing was automatic and forgot they were to be totally dependent on their continued relationship with God. This week, may we be grateful for all God has done for us and be thankful for all the gifts he has given us.

St Phils Editorial

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