Psalm 127 – Holman Christian Standard Bible
A Solomonic song of ascents
- Unless the LORD builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the LORD watches over a city, the watchmen stays alert in vain.
- In vain you get up early and stay up late, eating food earned by hard work; certainly He gives sleep to the one He loves.
- Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, children, a reward.
- Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth.
- Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. Such men will never be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the city gate.
Verses one and two make it pretty clear that things we do under our own power are worthless and doomed to failure. I couldn’t help but think about our country as I read verse one. Not surprisingly, Beth also mentions it in the first lesson on this psalm. As a history major, I had the privilege of attending an awesome Christian college that did not use textbooks which attempted to rewrite American history. No matter what the individual beliefs of our founding fathers, they DID model this country on Biblical Christian principles. Anyone who tells you otherwise either doesn’t know their history or is trying to rewrite it to exclude God. She includes this quote from Ben Franklin, which I highly doubt can be found in ANY secular history textbook used in our public schools:
In the beginning of the contest with Britain when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for the Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. . . . And have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance? I have lived for a long time (81 years), and the longer I live the more convincing proof I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this, and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall proceed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel.
I confess that I got chills as I was reading that. How incredibly prophetic. Doesn’t it exactly describe where we are in this country today?
We can also apply this to our own lives and work, and not just to the country or world in general. Beth asks us to imagine pouring our daily efforts into something completely meaningless. Maybe we don’t have to imagine, because that is exactly what we are doing. But no matter what we are doing, if God isn’t present in it, it is meaningless. Beth then offers encouragement:
You might be encouraged to realize that god can be hard at work in our workplace without our earthly boss ever acknowledging it. God can build a company to serve divine purposes right under the unsuspecting nose of an unbelieving owner.
Don’t get the idea that all work is meaningless if it’s not vocationally and blatantly Christian. The question we need answered is whether or not God is in our labor and indeed initiated it as His own building project. If you’re unsure, ask Him to show you in a way you’ll readily recognize. Eugene Peterson writes, “The curse of some people’s lives is not work, as such, but senseless work, vain work, futile work, work that takes place apart from God. Word that ignores the if.”
No matter what we might be doing, God is always at work. We have to let God work through us if we are going to accomplish the work He as set out for us.
Verse two tells us that Godless work won’t make us happy, it will wear us out. Beth says, “Work done while we need to be sleeping is energy burned in vain.” Too many people work day in and day out in Godless labor and are so tired and beaten down they can’t rest and restore their bodies. If we don’t work, no one else is going to do it for us. We can’t stop because no one will take over. We can’t stop because the money to pay the bills isn’t going to drop out of the sky. (Or is it?) I know. I have been there. So has everyone else. We need to work toward the work of God, then rest, because – guess what? – He doesn’t stop working when we do. He doesn’t have to rest. We can go to sleep knowing that He has everything under control and we can just jump right back in when we awake refreshed.
The second part of this psalm (verses 3-5) seem to deal with a totally different topic – family. When taken in context with the first part of the psalm we get the message that the foundation of our family has to be God or our family will fall apart. Boy, is that EVER the truth.
This verse has been taken out of context by some who say that it means God wants us all to have big families. If that is what God has called you to, by all means follow that calling. But not all of us have the desire, or even the ability, to have a lot of children. Some can’t have any children. My husband and I have made the choice in our family to only have one child. Our reasons are varied, but basically neither one of us feels the desire to have another child. It would be wrong of us to have another child just because others thought we should. My family is complete just the way it is. Beth made a great point regarding this subject:
Note that Psalm 127:3 does not say sons are the heritage from the Lord and children the reward. God grants us heritage in numerous ways. His rewards come to us in various forms.
. . . Scriptures like this one seem to coupone blessings with children. Sons are a heritage, blessed indeed. But like many of you, as much as I wanted one, I never birthed a son. Children are a reward, wonderful indeed! But if you have never had a child, the Bible is not telling you that you somehow are unworthy of reward.
Those of us with few children (or no children) by choice need to be careful of looking down on or judging people with a lot of children. By the same token, those who have chosen to have a lot of children need to also be careful about looking down on or judging those of us who don’t feel led to have large families. I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would want more than two or three kids, at the most, and three is pushing it. lol It may have something to do with the fact that I was so miserable while pregnant. But that doesn’t mean it is wrong for other people to want ten or twelve children, if that is what they are led to do for their family. I also tremendously admire people who open their homes to adopt children who have no parents and desperately need stability in their lives. I hope people who feel led to have large families look at that option in addition to having their own children. After all, aren’t we all adopted children of God?
My Psalm 127:
If my home isn’t built upon and by God, it will fall apart. Nothing I can do will be able to salvage it. If I do not look to the LORD to be my family’s shield and defense, nothing I can do will protect them. It is pointless for me to work myself to death day in and day out, never being content. I need to rest, both physically and mentally. I need to let God refresh me with sleep and with His Word.
Kids are one of God’s great gifts. Babies are prizes! While they are young we have the ability to point them in the direction they should go and aim them toward God. What joy it is to show my child the ways of God! I am extremely proud of Him and know that He will stand up for what is right.