Daily Family Worship

Psalm 127: The Builder’s Psalm

by | Jul 1, 2024

psalm 127

“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” The word vain is the keynote here, and we hear it ring out clearly three times. Men who desire to build know that they must labor, and so they put forth all their skill and strength; but let them remember that if Jehovah is not with them, their designs will prove to be nothing but failures. Without God, we are nothing. Trowel and hammer and saw are all instruments of vanity, unless the Lord Himself is the Great Master Builder.

“Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” Around the walls, the sentinels pace with constant step, yet the city is betrayed unless the unsleeping Watcher is with them. But it is noteworthy that the Psalmist does not bid the builder cease from laboring, nor does he suggest that watchmen should neglect their duty, nor does he declare that men should show their trust in God by doing nothing. In fact, he supposes that they will do all that they can do; and then he forbids their fixing their trust in what they have done, and assures them that all their efforts will be in vain unless the Creator puts forth His power to render all these second causes effectual. Holy Scripture endorses the order of Oliver Cromwell: “Trust in God, and keep your powder dry!” – except that here we are told that the dry gunpowder will not win the victory, unless we trust in the Lord. Happy is the person who hits the golden medium by working in such a way as to believe in God, and by believing in God in such a way as to work without fear!

“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord!” This points to another mode of building up a house – namely, by leaving sons and daughters after us to keep our name and family alive upon the earth. Without this, what is a person’s purpose in accumulating wealth? To what purpose does he build a house, if he has no one in his household to hold the house after him? What does it matter that he is the possessor of broad acres, if he has no heir to inherit them when he dies? Yet in this matter especially, a man is powerless without the Lord! Even the great Napoleon, with all his sinful anxiety on this point, could not create a dynasty. Hundreds of wealthy persons would give half their estates if they could only hear the cry of a child born in their own home. But children are a heritage which Jehovah Himself must give; or else a man will die childless, and his house will be unbuilt thereby.

“The fruit of the womb is his reward” – a reward from God! He does not give children as a penalty or a burden, but as a favor. They are a token for good, if we know how to raise them and disciple them. They are “doubtful blessings” only because we are doubtful persons. When society is in its proper order, children are not regarded as an inconvenience, but as an inheritance; and they are not received with regret, but as a reward.

“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.” By the Lord’s blessing, children who are born to parents in their younger years become the comfort of their old age. A man of war is glad to possess weapons which may fly to places where he cannot go himself, and good sons and daughters are their father and mother’s arrows – speeding to hit the mark which their parents aim at. What wonders a good man can accomplish, even in his advancing years, if he has affectionate children to second his desires and lend themselves to his plans and purposes! But if we wish to enjoy this blessing, we must have our children’s hearts while they are still very young; or else they are never likely to give us their undivided hearts when they are grown up. We must pray for the Lord’s grace and strength to try to point them and straighten them, so as to make arrows of them in their youth; for if we do not, it is to be feared that they shall prove to be crooked and unserviceable when they are adults.

O Lord, we give You praises as the Master Builder, the Watchful Keeper, and the Family Maker; for without You and Your care, all our best efforts in these things are nothing but vain and useless! Amen.

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