Hebrew Highlights 38 – FRUIT OF HANDS
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
PSA 128:1-2 (A Song of Ascents.) How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you.
These verses obviously refer to a work ethic, which is very prevalent in the bible, and in the Judeo/Christian traditions. The words here suitably translated as “the fruit of your hands” are the Hebrew “yagia yadeicha”, or literally, “what your hands have arrived at”. The fact that “eating the fruit of our hands” follows “fearing the Lord, and walking in His ways” makes rather a strong statement. In other words, a proper attitude toward work is an important part of our following the Lord.
Furthermore, we are promised a blessing, when eating the fruit of our own hands. “We will be happy, and it will be well with us.” Laboring for our wages, as opposed to say, begging, or leaning on other people’s generosity, is definitely satisfying. Naturally, it is also healthy, both physically, and mentally.
Now, I don’t mean to say that each of us should plant his own vegetable garden, although one day, the world may return to this simplicity. What is important, whether we are a doctor, computer programmer, coal miner, or street sweeper, is that we provide for ourselves and our own household.
This idea is carried on in the New Testament. Let’s read 1TH 4:11-12. “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.”
Paul’s exhortation to “behave properly toward outsiders” refers to those outside the church, who are watching us closely, and judging our every move. How tempting it is for them to point out discrepancies in our financial dealings. It’s true that they often misread our intentions, but why should we give them ammunition? After all, by obeying this call to “lead a quiet life and attend to your own business” we can actually draw non-believers to our way of life, and our faith.
The apostle gets even more direct in his second letter to the Thessalonican congregation, when he says in Chapter 3, verse 10, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat.”
Whoa! That seems a little heavy handed. But think of it this way: when someone is not working for their living, they are depriving themselves, and their family of happiness, and blessings. Paul is simply providing a good incentive to those who are being parasites on others blessings to get up and find a job. He is rebuking in love, and with authority.
Another elegant referral to a work ethic comes in the form of a prophetic blessing toward the house of Israel in ISA 65:22 "They shall not build, and another inhabit, They shall not plant, and another eat; For as the lifetime of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My chosen ones shall wear out the work of their hands.”
Here we see God’s promise to Israel that the one who labors will enjoy his own fruit. He will live a long time, and products will not fall apart, but will have to be worn out over time.
If God wanted to bless us, why didn’t He just say, “Everything you always wanted will be free. Just grab it. Enjoy!” Well, for one thing, God doesn’t work that way. If you have been mislead, I am truly sorry. Secondly, we will appreciate, and be more thankful for those things which we have worked hard for.
In my experience, at least, God provides talents, skills, and the wisdom to make wages. He gives us the strength and health to carry on. And yes, sometimes, when we have tried our best, but not quite managed to provide for all our family’s needs, He comes through with an extra special blessing.
“ How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you.”
Shalom, Shalom, from Jerusalem.