Psalm 128:2
For you shall eat the labor of your hands: happy shall you be, and it shall be well with you.
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(2) For thou.—The Hebrew by the position of the particle is more emphatic:

“For it is the labour of thine hands thou shalt eat.”

(See Note, Psalm 116:10.) This picture of a successful and peaceful husbandry, which itself throws a whole flood of light on the condition of Palestine and of the people, now not nomadic but agricultural, is rendered still more emphatic by references to the numerous passages where it is foretold that enemies would devour the harvests (Deuteronomy 28:30-33; Leviticus 26:16).

Happy.—The same word translated blessed in Psalm 128:1.

Psalm 128:2. Thou shalt eat the labour, &c. — Thy labour shall not be vain and fruitless, and the fruit of thy labour shall not be taken from thee and possessed by others, as was threatened to the disobedient Deuteronomy 28., but enjoyed by thyself with comfort and satisfaction. Happy shalt thou be — Whether thou be high or low, rich or poor, in the world, if thou fear God, and walk in his ways, thou mayest take the comfort of the promise to thyself, and expect the benefit of it, as if it were directed to thee by name. And it shall be well with thee — Both in this world and (as even the Chaldee paraphrast interprets the words) in the world to come. Whatever befalls thee, good shall be brought out of it; and “it shall be well with thee while thou livest, better when thou diest, and best of all in eternity.” — Henry.128:1-6 The blessings of those who fear God. - Only those who are truly holy, are truly happy. In vain do we pretend to be of those that fear God, if we do not make conscience of keeping stedfastly to his ways. Blessed is every one that fears the Lord; whether he be high or low, rich or poor in the world. If thou fear him and walk in his ways, all shall be well with thee while thou livest, better when thou diest, best of all in eternity. By the blessing of God, the godly shall get an honest livelihood. Here is a double promise; they shall have something to do, for an idle life is a miserable, uncomfortable life, and shall have health and strength, and power of mind to do it. They shall not be forced to live upon the labours of other people. It is as much a mercy as a duty, with quietness to work and eat our own bread. They and theirs shall enjoy what they get. Such as fear the Lord and walk in his ways, are the only happy persons, whatever their station in life may be. They shall have abundant comfort in their family relations. And they shall have all the good things God has promised, and which they pray for. A good man can have little comfort in seeing his children's children, unless he sees peace upon Israel. Every true believer rejoices in the prosperity of the church. Hereafter we shall see greater things, with the everlasting peace and rest that remain for the Israel of God.For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands - Thou shalt enjoy the avails of thy labor; thou shalt be secure in thy rights. See the notes at Isaiah 3:10. This is a general promise respecting the prosperity which religion affords. If all people were truly religious, this would be universal, so far as man is concerned. Property would be secure; and, except so far as abundant harvests might be prevented by the direct providence of God - by blight, and mildew, and storms, and drought - all people would enjoy undisturbed the avails of their labor. Slavery, whereby one man is compelled to labor for another, would come to an end; every one who is now a slave would "eat the labor of his own hands;" and property would no more be swept away by war, or become the prey of robbers and freebooters. Religion, if it prevailed universally, would produce universal security in our rights.

Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee - literally, "Happy thou, and well with thee." That is, happiness and security would be the consequence of true religion.

2. For thou shalt eat—that is, It is a blessing to live on the fruits of one's own industry. Thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands; thy labour shall not be vain and fruitless, and the fruit of thy labours shall not be taken away from thee, and possessed by others, as God threatened to the disobedient, Deu 28, but enjoyed by thyself with comfort and satisfaction.

Well with thee, both in this world and in the world to come, as even the Chaldee paraphrast explains these words. For thou shall eat the labour of thine hands,.... That is, thou that fearest the Lord, and walkest in his ways. It is an apostrophe, or address to such, even to everyone of them; instancing in one part of the blessedness that belongs to them, enjoyment of what their hands have laboured for; which may be understood both in a literal and spiritual sense: man must labour and get his bread with the sweat of his brow; he that will not work should not eat, he that does should; and a good man may have a comfortable enjoyment of the good of his labour; than which, as to temporal blessings, there is nothing better under the sun, Ecclesiastes 5:18; and, in a spiritual sense, good men labour in prayers at the throne of grace, there lifting up holy hands to God, wrestling with him for a blessing, which they enjoy; they labour in attendance on the word and ordinances, for the meat which endures to everlasting life; and they find the word and eat it, and Christ in it, whose flesh is meat indeed; and feed by faith on it, to the joy and comfort of their souls;

happy shall thou be, and it shall be well with thee; or, to thy soul, as the Syriac version; happy as to temporal things, and well as to spiritual ones: such having an apparent special interest in the love, grace, mercy, and delight of God; in his providence, protection, and care; in the supplies of his grace, and in his provisions for his people, in time and eternity. It is well with such that felt God, in life and at death, at judgment and for ever: and the Targum is,

"thou art blessed in this world, and it shall be well with thee in the world to come;''

and so Arama.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine {b} hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

(b) The world esteems them happy who live in wealth and idleness but the Holy Spirit approves them best who live of the mean profit of their labours.

2. A personal application of the general principle of Psalm 128:1, addressed to any God-fearing father of a family.

For thou shalt eat &c.] Or, The labour of thine hands shalt thou surely eat. His industry will not be baffled by bad seasons or other drawbacks, but will produce good results (Haggai 1:11; Haggai 2:17), and instead of their being carried off by enemies he will enjoy them himself. Cp. Isaiah 65:21-22 : and contrast the warnings of Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:30 ff.; Amos 5:11; Micah 6:15; Job 31:8.Verse 2. - For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands. This is the first point of the "blessedness." God's faithful servant shall enjoy the fruits of his own industry, and not have them devoured by strangers (comp. Deuteronomy 28:33; Leviticus 26:16; Psalm 109:11). Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee; rather, happy thou, and well is it with thee (comp. Deuteronomy 33:29). The poet proves that everything depends upon the blessing of God from examples taken from the God-ordained life of the family and of the state. The rearing of the house which affords us protection, and the stability of the city in which we securely and peaceably dwell, the acquisition of possessions that maintain and adorn life, the begetting and rearing of sons that may contribute substantial support to the father as he grows old - all these are things which depend upon the blessing of God without natural preliminary conditions being able to guarantee them, well-devised arrangements to ensure them, unwearied labours to obtain them by force, or impatient care and murmuring to get them by defiance. Many a man builds himself a house, but he is not able to carry out the building of it, or he dies before he is able to take possession of it, or the building fails through unforeseen misfortunes, or, if it succeeds, becomes a prey to violent destruction: if God Himself do not build it, they labour thereon (עמל בּ, Jonah 4:10; Ecclesiastes 2:21) in vain who build it. Many a city is well-ordered, and seems to be secured by wise precautions against every misfortune, against fire and sudden attack; but if God Himself do not guard it, it is in vain that those to whom its protection is entrusted give themselves no sleep and perform (שׁקד, a word that has only come into frequent use since the literature of the Salomonic age) the duties of their office with the utmost devotion. The perfect in the apodosis affirms what has been done on the part of man to be ineffectual if the former is not done on God's part; cf. Numbers 32:23. Many rise up early in order to get to their work, and delay the sitting down as along as possible; i.e., not: the lying down (Hupfeld), for that is שׁכב, not ישׁב; but to take a seat in order to rest a little, and, as what follows shows, to eat (Hitzig). קוּם and שׁבת stand opposed to one another: the latter cannot therefore mean to remain sitting at one's work, in favour of which Isaiah 5:11 (where בּבּקר and בּנּשׁף form an antithesis) cannot be properly compared. 1 Samuel 20:24 shows that prior to the incursion of the Grecian custom they did not take their meals lying or reclining (ἀνα- or κατακείμενος), but sitting. It is vain for you - the poet exclaims to them - it will not after all bring hat you think to be able to acquire; in so doing you eat only the bread of sorrow, i.e., bread that is procured with toil and trouble (cf. Genesis 3:17, בּעצּבון): כּן, in like manner, i.e., the same as you are able to procure only by toilsome and anxious efforts, God gives to His beloved (Psalm 60:7; Deuteronomy 33:12) שׁנא ( equals שׁנה), in sleep (an adverbial accusative like לילה בּּקר, ערב), i.e., without restless self-activity, in a state of self-forgetful renunciation, and modest, calm surrender to Him: "God bestows His gifts during the night," says a German proverb, and a Greek proverb even says: εὕδοντι κύρτος αἱρεῖ. Bttcher takes כּן in the sense of "so equals without anything further;" and כן certainly has this meaning sometimes (vid., introduction to Psalm 110:1-7), but not in this passage, where, as referring back, it stands at the head of the clause, and where what this mimic כן would import lies in the word שׁנא.
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