Henry (1662-1714), still world-famous amongst Christians for his Commentary,
was a Presbyterian minister born in Flintshire,
. His father was a renowned pastor of
the Puritan era.
as the former, is a psalm for families. In that, we were taught that the
prosperity of our families depends upon the blessing of God; in this, we are
taught that the only way to obtain that blessing which will make our families
comfortable is, to live in the fear of God, and in obedience to him. They that
do so, in general, shall be blessed, v. 1, 2, 4. In particular, I. They shall
be prosperous and successful in their employments, v. 2. II. Their relations
shall be agreeable, v. 3. III. They shall live to see their families brought
up, v. 6. IV. They shall have the satisfaction of seeing the church of God in
a flourishing condition, v. 5, 6. We must sing this psalm in the firm belief
of this truth, That religion and piety are the best friends to outward
prosperity, giving God the praise that it is so, and that we have found it so;
and encouraging ourselves and others with it.
Song of Degrees.
Blessed is every one that feareth
the LORD; that walketh in his ways. 2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine
hands: happy shalt thou be,
and it shall be well with thee. 3 Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy
children like olive-plants round about thy table. 4 Behold, that thus shall
the man be blessed that feareth the LORD. 5 The LORD shall bless thee out of
Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. 6
Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel.
is here showed that godliness has the promise of the life that now is, and of
that which is to come.
It is here again and again laid down as an undoubted truth, that they
who are truly holy are truly happy. They whose blessed state we are here
assured of, are such as fear the Lord,
and walk in his ways; such as have a
deep reverence of God upon their spirits, and evidence it by a regular and
constant conformity to his will. Where the fear of God is a commanding
principle in the heart, the tenor of the conversation will be accordingly; and
in vain do we pretend to be of those that fear God, if we do not make
conscience both of keeping to his ways, and not trifling in them or drawing
back. Such are blessed, (v.
1.) and shall be blessed, v. 4.
God blessed them, and his pronouncing them blessed makes them so. They are
blessed now, they shall be blessed still, and for ever. This blessedness,
arising from this blessing, is here secured, 1. To all the saints universally;
Blessed is every one that fears the Lord,
whoever he be; in every nation, he that fears God, and works righteousness, is
accepted of him, and therefore is blessed. Whether he be high or low, rich or
poor, in the world, if religion rule him, it will protect and enrich him. 2.
To such a saint in particular; thus shall the man be blessed; not only the
nation, the church in its public capacity, but the particular person in his
private interests. 3. We are here encouraged to apply it to ourselves; (v.
2.) “Happy shalt thou be; thou
mayst take the comfort of the promise, and expect the benefit of it, as if it
were directed to thee by name, if thou fear
God, and walk in his ways. Happy shalt thou be; that is, It
shall be well with thee; whatever befalls thee, good shall be brought out
of it; it shall be well with thee while thou livest, better when thou diest,
and best of all to eternity.” It is asserted, (v.
4.) with a note commanding attention, Behold,
thus shall the man be blessed; behold it by faith in the promise; behold
it by observation in the performance of the promise; behold it with assurance
that it shall be so, for God is faithful; and with admiration that it should
be so, for we merit no favour, no blessing, from him.
Particular promises are here made to godly people, which they may depend upon,
as far as is for God’s glory and their good; and that is enough.
That, by the blessing of God, they shall get an honest livelihood, and live
comfortably upon it. It is not promised that they shall live at ease, without
care or pains, but, Thou shalt eat the
labour of thine hands. Here is a double promise, (1.) That they shall have
something to do, (for an idle life is a miserable uncomfortable life,) and
shall have health and strength, and capacity of mind, to do it, and shall not
be forced to be beholden to others for necessary food, and to live, as the
disabled poor do, upon the labours of other people. It is as much a mercy as
it is a duty, with quietness to work
and eat out own bread, 2 Thess. Iii. 12. (2.) That they shall succeed in
their employments, and they and theirs shall enjoy what they get, others shall
not come and eat the bread out of their mouths, nor shall it be taken from
them either by oppressive rulers or invading enemies; God will not blast it
and blow upon it, as he did; (Hag. 1. 9.) and his blessing will make a little
go a great way. It is very pleasant to enjoy the fruits of our own industry;
as the sleep, so the food, of a labouring man is sweet.
That they shall have abundance of comfort in their family relations. As a wife
and children are very much a man’s care, so, if by the grace of God they are
such as they should be, they are very much a man’s delight, as much as any
creature comfort. (1.) The wife shall be as a vine by the sides of
the house, not only as a spreading vine which serves for an ornament, but
as a fruitful vine which is for profit, and with the fruit whereof both God
and man are honoured, Judg. ix. 13. The vine is a weak and tender plant, and
needs to be supported and cherished, but it is a very valuable plant, and some
think (because all the products of it were prohibited to the Nazarites) it was
the tree of knowledge itself. The wife’s place is the husband’s
house; there her business lies, and that is her castle. Where is Sarah thy
wife? Behold, in the tent; where should she be else? Her place is by
the sides of the house, not under-foot to be trampled on, nor yet upon the
house-top to domineer (if she be so, she is but as the grass upon the
house-top, in the next psalm), but on the side of the house, being a rib
out of the side of the man. She shall be a loving wife, as the vine, which
cleaves to the house-side, an obedient wife, as the vine, which is pliable,
and grows as it is directed. She shall be fruitful as the vine, not only in
children, but in the fruits of wisdom, and righteousness, and good management,
the branches of which run over the wall (Gen. xlix. 22. Ps. lxxx.
11.), like a fruitful vine, not cumbering the ground, nor bringing
forth sour grapes, or grapes of Sodom, but good fruit. (2.) The children
shall be as olive plants, likely in time to be olive-trees, and, though
wild by nature, yet grafted into the good olive, and partaking of its root
and fatness, Rom. xi. 17. It is pleasant to parents who have a table
spread, though but with ordinary fare, to see their children
round about it, to have many children, enough to surround it, and those with
them, and not scattered, or the parents forced from them. Job makes it one of
the first instances of his former prosperity that his children were
about him, Job xxix. 5. Parents love to have their children at table, to
keep up the pleasantness of the table-talk, to have them in health, craving
food and not physic, to have them like olive-plants, straight and
green, sucking in the sap of their good education, and likely in due time to
That they shall have those good things which God has promised, and which they
pray for; The Lord shall bless thee out
of Zion, where the ark of the covenant was, and where the pious Israelites
attended with their devotions. Blessings
out of Zion are the best blessings, which flow, not from common
providence, but from special grace, Ps. xx. 2.
That they shall live long, to enjoy the comforts of the rising generations;
“Thou shalt see thy children’s
children, as Joseph, Gen. l. 23. Thy family shall be built up and
continued, and thou shalt have the pleasure of seeing it.” Children’s
children, if they be good children, are the crown of old men, (Prov. Xvii.
6.) who are apt to be fond of their grand-children.
That they shall see the welfare of God’s church, and the land of their
nativity, which every man who fears God is no less concerned for than for the
prosperity of his own family. “Thou shalt be blessed in Zion’s blessing,
and wilt think thyself so. Thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem as long as thou livest, though thou
livest long; and shalt not have thy private comforts allayed and imbittered by
public troubles.” A good man can have little comfort in seeing his children’s
children, unless withal he see peace upon Israel, and have hopes of
transmitting the entail of religion pure and entire to those that shall come
after him, for that is the best inheritance.
Commentary on the Holy Bible,” Ward, Lock & Co., Vol 3, pp 436-437.