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Preaching Psalm 128, Resources

My purpose in this post is simply to give my own opinion on what resources I found most helpful in preparing to preach Psalm 128.  I am not addressing which resources are the best on the Psalms in general.

On Psalm 128, the overall most helpful source I found was Spurgeon’s Treasury of David.  I enjoy reading my hard copy, but the full text is available online.  In terms of theological reflection and pastoral application (not to mention use of language!), Spurgeon is superb.  His treatment of Psalm 128 is really good and quite quotable.

Leupold was also very good and useful.  I do not hear as much about this commentary but I regularly find it helpful.  On Psalm 128 he is quite expressive with good theological application nicely phrased.

Kidner, though brief, as always gave helpful connections to the New Testament. He was not as helpful on this Psalm as on some others.

Among modern commentators Van Gemeren and Goldingay were most helpful.  Goldingay provided helpful technical information, more precise understanding of some key words and specifics on some of the metaphors (e.g. vine and olive shoots).  He also gave some pithy comments on how countercultural this text is in affirming the value of children. For example he writes:

The stress on wives and children is a stumbling block to ancient commentators for whom celibacy was a key value.  Amusingly, it can also be a stumbling block to modern commentators for whom a wife is more than a womb and daughters count as much as sons. Once more, when Scripture is saying something that we do not like, we do well to pay attention – we would be wise to reflect on the significance (for men and women) of having children, particularly if we are a people inclined to downplay it.  The Psalm also speaks to modern Western attitudes by inviting men and women to value what happens inside the house and not to think that value attaches only to what happens outside, in the community, business, society, and politics. (p. 513)

There is much to apply here.

Van Gemeren also was helpful in providing reliable, more recent information on background and metaphor.

I have not always found the Ancient Christian Commentary Series to be helpful because it has just small snippets, but in this case it was very useful.  One of the Patristic sources pointed out the connection between v. 1 and Peter’s speech in Acts 10, showing the universal call of the gospel here in Psalm 128.

Also, because I had just received a copy, I investigated Goldingay’s third volume of his Old Testament Theology.  Since “fear of the LORD” is prominent in this psalm I consulted his section “Reverencing Yhwh” which was quite good.  It was rich.  I thought it might be overly technical or less hardy theologically, but I was delightfully mistaken on both counts.

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