Unless The Lord Builds A House — Michael Grooms

Psalm 127 is one of two Psalms attributed to Solomon. It speaks of God’s sovereignty and the blessings that come from depending on Him. The reader is reminded of the futility of seeking success on one’s own merit without trusting in God.  The psalm begins:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”  (v. 1a)

The word “house” in this passage can mean a building, as used by Jesus in His parable of the two builders found in Matthew 7:24-27.  However, the Hebrew word translated as “house” here can also mean household or family. It is used this way in Genesis 7:1 when God told Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household.” God is more concerned about families than houses. A family built by God is one that honors Him and fulfills His desires for the family. It is founded on a godly marriage of one woman and one man joined together by God. A home built by God will honor the roles in which God has placed the man as husband and father and the woman as wife and mother (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-21; 1 Pet. 3:1-7). Unfortunately, many build their homes on worldly desires instead of allowing God to build their home. The result is the breakdown of the home structure, which brings a decline in society.

“Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”  (v. 1b)

The child of God must place their trust in God, not men. Though a watchman diligently attends his duty at his post and the city is fortified with the best defenses, it will be overthrown if God wants to destroy that city. God told Joshua, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1:5).  Jericho was a heavily fortified city with a wall of defense and mighty men of valor who protected it. Yet, that wall fell before God’s people, and the city was delivered into their hands by God because Joshua led them to obey God (Josh. 6). God dismissed all but 300 of the 32,000 soldiers led by Gideon and used them to defeat the mighty army of the Midianites (Judges 7). God demonstrated in these instances and many others that His people must trust Him. The Psalmist wrote, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Ps. 118:8). The Christian is a citizen of a spiritual kingdom. That kingdom, the Lord’s church, is under attack. Satan desires to breach its sacred gates and destroy its foundation. God has placed watchmen to guard this spiritual city. Paul speaks to elders with the admonition to “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” and then warns them to watch out for “wolves” that would seek to harm the church. He then reminds them, “Therefore, watch” (Acts 20:28-31).  Paul also admonished Timothy to watch for false teachers and guard the flock against them by preaching the word and always being ready (2 Tim. 4:2-4). Elders and preachers serve as watchmen of the church as they function within the roles God has created.

“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep.”  (v. 2)

It is admirable to be industrious, within reason. However, one must put their trust in God, not their own abilities. Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’” (Matt. 6:31).  He went on to assure us that God knows what we need and will provide them if we put the kingdom of God first. James reminds us of the futility of worrying over material things in James 4:13-15. This passage speaks of the futility of making plans for material things without trust in God’s sovereign will. Life is short and frail. Our best plans are often misguided. God alone holds the future in his hands. Our best life is one lived in submission to His will and one which trusts in His providence. It is then we can live a life of peace, as is represented in the words of the Psalmist, “For so He gives His beloved sleep.”

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”  (v. 3)

Children and adults alike delight in singing “Jesus Loves the Little Children.” Jesus showed His love for children when they were brought to Him so He could touch them. “But Jesus called them to Him and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God’” (Luke 18:16). The godly couple who has been blessed with a child has received that child as an inheritance from God. They have been granted stewardship of the child to return the child back to God in faithfulness, as Hannah raised Samuel to give back to God in His service (1 Sam. 1:11).

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate.”  (vs. 4-5)

In ancient times large families were valued for their prowess in battles. A larger family provided fighting power in land wars and the ability to defend the home property. Solomon wrote elsewhere: “My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him who reproaches me” (Prov. 27:11). Children who bring honor to their families are a blessing in any generation. Children are instructed to obey and honor their parents in Ephesians 6:1-3. Thus, they are blessed and are a blessing to their parents. May God give us more families that honor Him!

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