On the eve of his father’s death, the newly-crowned king, Solomon, wrote this Psalm (Psalm 127):
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
This Psalm is striking to me for two reasons (today).
First is that David has just finished laying out all the details for the building of the temple that Solomon is going to oversee. So, with that in mind, the first verse of the Psalm has a real depth of meaning. This grand temple that is to house the very presence of God among His people is only made possible by God Himself. This truth should stand as a reminder of how little God really needs the temple. He builds the house, and if we don’t get that, our work is for nothing.
Secondly, I have been wrestling with what the two sections have to do with one another. First it’s building and protecting, then children? I have trouble seeing the connection. Unless, there is something to the fact that the first section makes clear that our labors are made possible by God alone and the second section calls children “a heritage from the Lord.” The Psalm seems to be telling us that both our livelihood and our legacy are bound up in God’s gracious gifts toward us. We will have no home today or in a thousand years unless God is the one who builds.
Let us remember this: that God provides our livelihood and our legacy. And let us seek to make Christ the center of both.