OJPP  Vol.5 No.1 , February 2015
“Like Olive Shoots”: Insight into the Secret of a Happy Family in Psalm 128
Abstract: Beset by all kinds of ideologies that divest it of its divinely endowed values, family in our contemporary society suffers greatly from those who purport to have a better way of fulfilling its divine mandate. All who understand the importance of family are greatly concerned at the overt derailment that has proved detrimental to human society. The Sacred Scripture offers us varied insights into solving the problem in which we find ourselves. Psalm 128 chosen for this paper is one of those texts in the Bible that reflects on family and its value in human society. As a Wisdom Psalm and didactic in nature, the poem presents to its readers what family is in dire need of at this time. The meaning of this Psalm is coded in its rich poetic techniques and similes that the paper endeavours to explain in its immediate context as a Song of Ascents and in the contexts of other Wisdom texts of the Old Testament. Its theological thrust, the fear of God, which is introduced at the beginning and iterated in various phrases within the Psalm comes out clearly as messages the Psalm offers to worrisomely deformed image of family in our time.
Cite this paper: Obiorah, M. (2015) “Like Olive Shoots”: Insight into the Secret of a Happy Family in Psalm 128. Open Journal of Philosophy, 5, 62-72. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2015.51008.

[1]   Abulad, R. E. (2013). A Note on Critical Wisdom in the Old Testament. DIWA: Studies in Philosophy and Theology (Vol. 38, pp. 77-90). Quezon City: Divine Word Seminary.

[2]   Allen, L. C. (2002). Psalms 101-150; Word Biblical Commentary 21. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3]   Alonso Schökel, L., & Carniti, C. (1993). I Salmi (Vol. 2). Roma: Edizioni Borla.

[4]   Amzallag, N., & Avriel, M. (2010). Complex Antiphony in Psalms 121, 126 and 128: The Steady Responsa Hypothesis (pp. 502-518). Old Testament Essays, South Africa: Old Testament Society of South Africa.

[5]   Briggs, C. A., & Briggs, E. G. (1986). Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalm (Vol. 2). Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark.

[6]   Brown, F. (1979). The New Brown Driver Briggs Gesenius Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers.

[7]   Bullinger, E. W. (2003). Figures of Speech Used in the Bible Explained and Illustrated. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

[8]   Bullock, C. H. (2001). Encountering God in the Book of Psalms: A Literary and Theological Introduction. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

[9]   Cole, S. J. (2013). Psalm 128: Blueprint for a Satisfying Home (Part 2).

[10]   Crenshaw, J. L. (1998). Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.

[11]   Feliks, J. (1996). Olive. In Encyclopaedia Judaica (Vol. 12, pp. 1364-1365). Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House.

[12]   Flores, R. (2013). There Will Be Hope for the Poor: Traditional Wisdom and Hope in the Book of Job. DIWA: Studies in Philosophy and Theology, 38, 113-118.

[13]   Fuhs, H. F. (1990). Yārēh. In G. J. Botterweck, & H. Ringgren (Eds.), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Vol. 6, pp. 313-314). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[14]   Gerstenberger, E. S. (2001). Psalms, Part 2 and Lamentations (The Forms of the Old Testament Literature: 15). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[15]   Girard, M. (1994). Les Psaumes redécouverts: De la structure au sens 101-150. Québec: édition Bellarmin.

[16]   Goulder, M. D. (1997). The Songs of Ascents and Nehemiah. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 22, 43-58.

[17]   Hareuveni, N. (1989). Tree and Shrub in Our Biblical Heritage. Kiryat Ono: Kedumim.

[18]   Hentschke, R. (1997). Gephen. In G. J. Botterweck, & H. Ringgren (Eds.), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Vol. 3, pp. 58-59). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[19]   Hermann, G., & Begrich, J. (1998). An Introduction to the Psalms: The Genres of the Religious Lyric of Israel. Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.

[20]   John Paul II (1982). Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[21]   John Paul II (1994). Letter to Families: Gratissiman Sane. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[22]   Kraus, H. J. (1993). Psalms 60-150: A Continental Commentary. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

[23]   Mannati, M. (1979). Les psaumes graduels constituent-ils un genre littéraire distinct à l’interieur du psautier biblique? Semitica, 29, 85-100.

[24]   Mays, J. L. (1994). Psalms: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.

[25]   Miller, C. M. (n.d.). The Blessings of Fearing the Lord. Psalm 128: 1-6.

[26]   Murphy, R. E. (2002). The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[27]   Obiorah, M. J. (2004). How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place: The Desire for God’s House in Psalm 84. Erzabtei St. Ottilien: EOS Verlag.

[28]   Obiorah, M. J. (2010). The Rhetoric on Fraternal Love in Psalm 133 and Its Relevance to the Nigerian Situation. Nigerian Journal of Social Sciences, 6, 148-166.

[29]   Obiorah, M. J. (2011). The Place and Role of God in National Development: An Exegetical Study of Psalm 127, Theology at the Service of National Unity. In E. Nwosu, & L. Ijezie (Eds.), Proceedings of the 25th Annual Conference of the Catholic Theological Association of Nigeria (pp. 133-155). Iperu-Remo: Ambassador Publications.

[30]   Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (2004). Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[31]   Ravasi, G. (1997). Il Libro dei Salmi (Vol. 3). Bologna: Edizioni Dehoniane.

[32]   Rogerson, J. W., & McKay, J. W. (1977). Psalms 51-100: The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the English Bible. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[33]   Sabourin, L. (1974). The Psalms: Their Origin and Meaning. New York: Alba House.

[34]   Segal, B. J. (2012). Psalm 128—Blessing, from Home to Jerusalem.

[35]   Synod of Bishops: Third Extraordinary General Assembly (2013). Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization: A Preparatory Document. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[36]   Synod of Bishops: Third Extraordinary General Assembly (2014). The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization Instrumentum Laboris. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[37]   Terrien, S. (2003). The Psalms: Strophic Structure and Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[38]   The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994). Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

[39]   The New Jerusalem Bible (1990). London: Doubleday.

[40]   The New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (1993). Bangalore: Thomas Nelson.

[41]   Vamosh, M. F. (2007). Women at the Time of the Bible. Herzilia: Palpot.

[42]   Van Niekerk, M. J. H. (1995). Psalms 127-128: Examples of Divergent Wisdom Views on Life. Old Testament Essays, 8, 414-424.

[43]   Watson, W. G. E. (1995). Classical Hebrew Poetry: A Guide to its Techniques. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

[44]   Weiser, A. (1962). The Psalms: A Commentary. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster.

[45]   Westermann, C. (1989). The Living Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

[46]   Zenger, E. (2005). Er segne dich JHWH von Zion aus... (Ps 134: 3): Die Gottesmetaphorik in den Wallfahrtspsalmen Pss 120-134. In Gott und Mensch im Dialog: Festschrift für Otto Kaiser zum 80 Geburtstag, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 345/1-2 (Vol. 2, pp. 601-621). Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.