Samuel Chadwick was a great British Methodist leader, and quite a character. Unique and unafraid is how we might put it. On one occasion, a student at his ministerial college asked for permission to smoke a pipe, which was against the rules. The student pleaded that he had been a smoker for some twenty years and was “dying” for a smoke. Chadwick replied: “Are you really “dying” for a smoke?” - to which the student quickly answered in the affirmative. “Then” said Chadwick “sit down on that chair and die.” And in prayer with Chadwick, “die” he did, and the student was delivered from the habit. On another occasion, while presiding over a day-long fundraiser for Cliff College, Chadwick encountered a guest who gave him a large check, saying, “I have been blessed this morning.” Chadwick took the check, lifted his eyes toward heaven, and prayed aloud in front of the man, “Lord, bless him again tonight.”
Seeing and savoring God’s blessing is something we should all be interested in. Sheltering beneath the umbrella of Heavens’ benediction on life is something that we should all seek eagerly. Life goes better when God makes His face to shine upon us and is gracious to us (Num. 6:22-27; Prov. 10:22).
With that in mind, we would do well to turn to Psalm 128, which holds out the promise of blessing upon God-fearing hearts and homes. The anonymous writer of this Song of Ascents sets before us pictures of a happy couple, a flourishing family, a growing community, and generational prosperity and progress. Like ripples on a pond, the blessing of God is seen to spread outward from the individual (v. 2), to the family (v. 3), to the community (vv. 5-6) and to the next generation (v. 6). Within this Psalm, divine blessing expands in concentric circles. What a promise! What a prospect! God’s rich and abiding blessing on your hand, house, homeland, and heritage.
But how do we secure God’s blessing? The key to God’s blessing hangs on the front door of this psalm. In the first verse we are told, “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways (Psalm 128:1, 4; 112:1). The fear of God speaks of a profound sense of awe and accountability to God. It is a mind and heart recognition of God’s sovereignty over all of life, and it sees all of life in relationship to God first. Simply put, “the fear of the Lord” is a life rightly related to and sweetly submitted to God. Fundamentally it is a weighty acknowledgement of the saliency of God for human life.
Since Psalm 128 marries the favor of God to the fear of God, we would do well to cultivate a growing fear of God. First, we should ask God to teach us what He commands, and we should ask Him to unite our hearts to fear His name (Psa. 86:11). Second, we should develop a high view of God in worship (Rev. 1:12-18). Third, we should study and obey the Holy Scriptures (Prov. 2:1-5). Fourth, we should spend quality time in the company of God-besotted believers, both living believers through church fellowship (Psa. 119:63) and dead believers through the books they wrote.
Blessedness is a divine gift - let us seek the Giver!