Psalm 128

A song of ascents.
 1 Blessed are all who fear the LORD, 
       who walk in his ways.

 2 You will eat the fruit of your labor
       blessings and prosperity will be yours.

 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine 
       within your house; 
       your sons will be like olive shoots 
       around your table.

 4 Thus is the man blessed 
       who fears the LORD.

 5 May the LORD bless you from Zion 
       all the days of your life; 
       may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem,

 6 and may you live to see your children's children. 
       Peace be upon Israel.


A piece of writing written quite obviously to men.  This makes me immediately curious and inquisitive.  What could the author be trying to stir up?  Who was he writing to and how was this guy struggling with his home life?  I'm not gonna lie, there is hardly a subject the interests me more than the home.  The family.  The marriage.  I'm not telling you something you don't already know if you frequent this blog with any regularity.  But I might as well state the obvious if for no other reason to "name my passion".

I have found my heart mulling over this passage for weeks now, each day unfurling a new fold of tender truth.  Each week ushering me into a fresh metaphorical magic of sorts.  Deep magic as C.S. Lewis describes it.  There is something magical about marriage, especially as it is treated in the Scriptures.  

The description of the the wife being a "fruitful vine" jumped off the page a few weeks ago longing to reason with me, reckon with my former judgements and ideologies as it relates to marriage.  I felt invited into new round table discussion, unlearning as much as I could about my preconceived notions and opening myself to new analogical pictures and textures tucked tenderly in the Hebrew text of the Psalter.  It's no secret, this is a fetish of mine...finding neglected nuggets of truth that for years have been left for dead in the Old Testament.  Especially nuggets that relate to men and women.

How is it that the woman could blossom and bear fruit when a man lives and loves well?  What would it take for me to live in such a way as to provoke/evoke such fruitfulness in my wife's heart?  How could I pick the fruit of my loving labor, a toil of chivalrous ilk?  How could I tend the vines of my wife's life to drink of the wines of her soul?  

It didn't take long in in my exploration of this metaphor to happen upon a beautiful, lost word.  Husbandman.  I love how the word husband is rooted in this ancient word, this almost ancient occupation of Husbandry.  I looked up the word looking for a cross-pollinating picture of marriage.  I was pleasantly surprised to unearth some hidden treasure.


A vinedresser, or husbandman, is more than a mere farmer. Grapes are more than an annual crop. The vinedresser's grape vines remain with him for decades. He comes to know each one in a personal way, much like a shepherd with his sheep. He knows how the vine is faring from year to year and which ones are more productive or vigorous than others. He knows what they respond to and what special care certain one's need. Every vine has its own personality. And the vinedresser comes to know it over the years. The vinedresser cares for each vine and nurtures it, pruning it the appropriate amount at the appropriate times, fertilizing it, lifting its branches from the ground and propping them or tying them to the trellis, and taking measures to protect them from insects and disease.

Robert Scott Stiner writes in his article called [Lessons from a Venetian Vinedresser]… "The rolling hills obscured my view from seeing very far ahead, but as I walked I heard someone singing and stopped long enough to recognize a man’s Italian voice nor far ahead of me.  I approached with caution.  Slowly, I moved into position as if to look at a wild deer before it spots you and leaps off into the forest.  Just as I  go to the crest of the hill, down the same row and about fifty yards ahead of me, was a man.  He didn’t see me, so I  squatted down and watched him working.  He was an Italian man that looked to be in his sixties with silver hair and a few darker traces still left from his younger days.  He had on a long sleeve shirt, work pants and boots.  Hanging out of his pockets were handfuls of those green rubber tubes and in his hand was a pair of small pruners.  He worked alone in this vast vineyard.  After watching him for only a few moments, it was as if the Holy Spirit said, “that’s the vinedresser”.
My mind reeled with excitement as I watched this man and for the first time I saw John chapter fifteen come alive before my eyes.
Here was an old man singing to the vines as if to serenade them as he did the work that only he could do.  Each branch he touched and ran his fingers along it; inspected and trimmed it in such a way that would cause it to bear the most fruit, the best fruit.
He wasn’t in a hurry and the time this process took seemed to be irrelevant to this vinedresser.  It was the end product, even if it would still be a long time away, which was of the utmost relevance."
I'm continuing to hunt for more of these little jewels.  The forthcoming posts will be the journal entries of my findings.  I hope they enrich you as they are enriching me.

Further up, further in.


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