Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.” (Psalm 128:1–2, ESV)

The word “blessed” means: “Blissful” and we might translate it “Oh the bliss of…”  Other ways it is translated are: “Happy” (NRSV) and “How joyful” (NLT).  The point being that the one(s) who fear the Lord is in a good state, a blessed state; they are flourishing as they were created to flourish.

From where does this blessedness come?  It comes from fearing the Lord.  We struggle with translating the word “fear” because in English we think of it as being scared or frightened, and this is not the meaning of the word here.  Here it means a deep awe or reverence or devotion to the Lord.  Robert Nisbet in The Songs of the Temple Pilgrims captures the meaning of fear for us:

It is the fear which a child feels towards an honoured parent,—a fear to offend: it is that which they who have been rescued from destruction feel to the benefactor who nobly and at the vastest sacrifice interposed for their safety,—a fear to act unworthily of his kindness: it is that which fills the breast of a pardoned and grateful rebel in the presence of a venerated sovereign at whose throne he is permitted to stand in honour,—a fear lest he should ever forget his goodness, and give him cause to regret it. Such is the fear of the Christian now: a fear which reverence for majesty, gratitude for mercies, dread of displeasure, desire of approval, and longing for the fellowship of heaven, inspire; the fear of angels and the blessed Son; the fear not of sorrow but of love, which shrinks with instinctive recoil from doing aught that would tend to grieve, or from denying aught that would tend to honour. Religion is the grand and the only wisdom; and since the beginning, the middle, and the end of it, is the fear of the Lord, blessed is every man that is swayed by it.

Blessed indeed.

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