“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”

Psalm 128:1 Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.

2 For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.

3 Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table.

4 Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.

Psalm 113:5 Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high,

6 Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!

7 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill;

9 He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

Proverbs 5:18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth.

Proverbs 31:25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.

Ecclesiastes 9:9 Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun: all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun.

John 15:11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

MEMORY VERSE: Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 16:11

CENTRAL THOUGHT: A man who fears the Lord experiences a joyful life in his home as he obeys God’s command to rejoice and delight in his wife; God also gives a woman joy as she embraces her role as a godly wife and mother. In good times and bad, they can be joyful in early marriage and in later years, because they both fear the Lord and experience His presence—the true source of all joy—in the home.


Psalm 128:1 “A Song of degrees”: There are fifteen of these Psalms, beginning with 120 and going through 134. Bible scholars vary in their explanations of this. Some believe they stood for the fifteen steps going up to the temple. (Degrees translates “to mount up or ascend.”) Some believe these Psalms were sung as the returning Israelites came back to Jerusalem from places of their captivity. “Blessed”: an exclamation, “How happy!” “Feareth the Lord”: “the fear of reverence, of dread to offend, of anxiety to please, and of entire submission and obedience” (Spurgeon’s Treasury of David).

Psalm 128:2 “Thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands”: “This is a general promise respecting the prosperity which religion affords. If all people were truly religious, this would be universal, so far as man is concerned. Property would be secure; and, except so far as abundant harvests might be prevented by the direct providence of God—by blight, and mildew, and storms, and drought—all people would enjoy undisturbed the avails of their labor. Slavery, whereby one man is compelled to labor for another, would come to an end; every one who is now a slave would “eat the labor of his own hands;” and property would no more be swept away by war, or become the prey of robbers and freebooters. Happiness and security would be the consequence of true religion.” (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).

Psalm 128:3 “Fruitful vine…olive plants”: “The vine and olive are in Hebrew poetry frequent symbols of fruitfulness and of a happy, flourishing state” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers). ”The vigorous offsets from an aged olive tree, which spring up around it, ready to take its place” (Pulpit Commentary).

Psalm 113:7-9 “He raiseth the poor…a joyful mother of children”: a possible allusion to Hannah’s song in I Samuel 2:1-10.

Proverbs 5:18 “Fountain”: wife. “Rejoice with the wife of thy youth”: “Seek not to harlots for that comfort and delight which God allows thee to take in thy wife” (Benson’s Commentary).

John 15:11 “Joy”: cheerfulness; calm delight.


A closer study into Scripture reveals the precious knowledge that God created a wife for man to bring him joy; not only so, but he was to rejoice in her and bring her joy. Part of Moses’ law concerning the Israelite military was that a man was not to go to war for a whole year after he married, but was to stay at home and “cheer up” his wife, or bring her joy and happiness (Deuteronomy 24:5). Being a wife and mother was also the ultimate joy in ancient Hebrew culture. This kind of joy only comes from the heart that fears or reveres God and obeys Him.

The true essence of marital joy is the joy God takes in His people, who were chosen and redeemed as His bride. He delights in His bride and sings songs of joy to her (Isaiah 62:4-5, 65:19, and Zephaniah 3:17). In His presence is fullness of joy.

There will be days where we cry to the Lord, “Okay, where is the joy in all of this? Why aren’t we enjoying life? Why must this be so hard?” But let us remember:

Joy is a by-product of the presence of God, which daily, until we leave this world, is going to be highly contested by the enemy.

Marriage is the union of two very different individuals, each going through the pruning and cultivating disciplines of the Holy Spirit, who are learning how to bear and forbear with the humanity of each other.

Parenting involves two—and sometimes, only one—individuals being disciplined by the Holy Spirit who are learning how to discipline, shape, and nurture developing individuals who have inherited their parents’ combined unsanctified character traits!

Joy isn’t a feeling; it’s not just an abstract noun. Joy is also a verb—an action. It is something we choose to do. A man chooses to obey God and rejoice in his wife. A woman chooses to rejoice; she chooses to be a joyful mother. We choose to rejoice in trials, temptations, and in each other when we’re being the somewhat difficult and complex humans that we are.

Joy, as fruit given by God, is promised. What grasps and secures the promises of God? Firm belief and trust in the Word of God; obedience and follow-through even when the feelings are not there.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. In Psalm 128, what are the prerequisites for a happy home?
  2. Discuss the personal, spiritual and political implications of the phrase, “Eat the labour of thine hands.”
  3. What five things are promised to the man who fears the Lord?
  4. Psalm 113 possibly refers to what Old Testament mother?
  5. What is the source of true joy?
  6. What is the true essence of a man rejoicing with his wife?


Prior to becoming a couple, both of us had individually determined to place God first in our lives because we loved and feared Him, so when we were married we naturally committed to asking Him to be the Head of our marriage, even entering specifically into contract with Him during our wedding vows!

When we first married, we were told by a number of close acquaintances that knew us well they believed we were well-matched and put together by God. We too believed our marriage was in God’s will and expected to be happy together. However, starting early in our marriage, we had to learn that the joy in our marriage came primarily from Him, for putting an independent, fastidious bachelor with a baby girl straight from her parents’ home led to more tears in our first six months of marriage than all the other years since! Adding to that, our first few years were marked with job loss, the near loss of our home, and the heartbreaking loss of the first child we were expecting. But what we learned through those difficulties was that there is a special joy for those that choose God and each other, and we look back fondly on those years as the basis for our strong marriage today!

After a few years, we were uncertain that parenthood would become a realized dream, but God inspired us with the passage in Psalm 128 referenced in this lesson, and we became parents with joy! This brought about new opportunities for growth. For example, we learned that a wife’s consternation at the possible disapproval of her husband when arriving from work to a home where all the chores weren’t completed could cause her small children to have feelings of fear and worry as well, so, after prayerful consideration, changes were made. These days, upon his arrival home, it’s not uncommon to hear an anticipatory exclamation of “Daddy’s home!” ring throughout the house followed by kisses and hugs all around!

Yes, we’ve seen our share of loss and disappointment, but we’ve also gotten to experience physical healings, the salvation of our children, financial blessings, and joy in knowing that the Holy Spirit is in control of our home—a home of singing, laughter, and genuine enjoyment with each other. As a phrase from As The Deer, a song Brother Fari often sings, states, God alone is “the real Joy-Giver”!

—Bro. Fari and Sis. Bonnie Matthews, Mission Hills, California

Married March 31, 2001