Unless the Lord Builds the House
One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 127.
I especially love vs. 3-5.
When we announced that we were going to have our first child, I took a picture of the sonogram next to this passage.
Having children is a great blessing, and I have been blessed with three amazing kids (so far).
Of course, there is a first half of this psalm, though, that ought to be considered well <READ>.
Attributed to Solomon, he has a unique perspective on this topic.
He was the son of David, the third king of the United Kingdom of Israel.
He was the wisest and wealthiest king, serving at peacetime (for the most part).
And he was able to build the first temple to God around 970 BC, so he knew a thing or two about building a house.
He had 700 wives and 300 concubines, so he knew a thing or two about children.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean he took his own advice here in the psalm, but we ought to.
Let’s make sure the Lord has built our house, both the church and our homes.
The Lord’s Blessing.
The Lord’s Heritage.
The Lord’s Blessing (127:1-2).
Building a Church (127:1a).
This is a rather interesting passage.
Does this suggest that the Lord Himself must come down to build something in order for it not to be in vain?
No, but it means that it must be built by His command, with His blessing.
We can apply this to all manner of things, not the least of which is His church.
We recognize passages like Matt. 16:18 that tell us who has built the Lord’s church—Jesus, the Lord, says that He will.
And it is true, unless He built it, whatever other church we might construct is in vain.
We can’t expect to have a church founded and built by men, and have it be acceptable to God.
“But Stephen,” you might say, “men clearly were involved in the founding of this church. I was here when the foundation was laid.”
Maybe for the local church, but we are part of something greater that would exist with or without our involvement.
How do we know we are part of that church, part of His house?
Because we do Bible things in Bible ways and call Bible things by Bible names.
In order to be that church, the church that Christ built, the church of Christ, we must resemble that church we can read about in the Bible.
Only then can we truly be part of that church that our Lord built.
Building a Home.
But truly, in context I think this passage is more about building a home—not the brick and mortar house, but in establishing our families.
In our homes, do we put Christ front and center?
On Tuesday evening, we entertained a young couple at our house.
Victoria has known the woman, Taylor, for a long time, and I had the privilege of meeting her once a few years ago.
She recently got married, so this was the first time meeting her husband.
They happened to arrive while we were in the middle of Bible time, so they caught the last half of it.
Taylor sent us a message later informing us that she loved the idea, expressing a desire to put something like that in practice for her and her husband.
And here’s what she said about it, “It feels like an easy way to center God! Especially in the marriage.”
And that’s the point, isn’t it? To have God front and center of your life, of your marriage, of your family.
“Unless the Lord builds the house….”
Unless you have Him front and center, are you not striving to build your family, your house, in vain?
As Paul wrote, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3).
Also, “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Eph. 5:23).
Putting Christ front and center means you have a focus on following Christ, doing His will by loving each other and submitting to whom you ought to submit.
If your children grow up seeing this, they will expect it in their households when they grow up, and are more likely to find someone else who is Christ-centered!
Work that is Worthy or Vain (127:1b-2).
The second half of vs. 1 brings up protection and security.
The rest in vs. 2 is a commentary on hard work, waking up early and staying up late, eating just enough food to keep you going.
The more hours you put in, the more work you are likely to produce.
The less you spend on frivolities, the more you can save and possibly invest.
But is all that hard work and sacrifice worth it?
Many of you are retired. Was it worth it?
How many of you now rise up early and stay up late today?
Has the Lord given you sleep now? Did He before?
The truth is, it all is in vain if you don’t put God first.
Our ultimate goal needs to be an eternal one, to reach heaven and to be with our God forever.
It doesn’t matter what successes we have here on this earth, if we have failed to do that, our work was in vain.
As Jesus says, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Matt. 15:13).
This is true for churches as well as it is for homes.
That which He planted will be revealed on the last day, if not before.
So then all this shows how important our heritage is, the “fruit of the womb.”
The Lord’s Heritage.
Children are a Heritage (127:3).
They are our portion, our share of what God has granted us.
One translation says that they are a gift from the Lord.
Solomon writes that that they are a reward.
How many of you have raised children?
Not everyone can, not everyone has had the opportunity, not everyone wants to.
But for me, it is the most rewarding and worthwhile venture that I have ever undertaken.
I’m sure when the teenager days come, they will present their challenges, but that’s not going to make it any less of a reward.
It is our privilege to raise these children, to be surrogates of the Lord over them.
By the way, that’s what it means to “honor your father and mother.”
In that culture, they were effectively perceived as surrogates of God—honoring our parents is honoring God.
God has entrusted these souls to us to care for physically and spiritually.
After all, we are to “bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
Let us do this not only for our children, but our children’s children as best we can.
This can also be extended to the church—members of a congregation are a blessing, a reward from the Lord.
As John writes to the “elect lady,” he rejoices to “have found some of [her] children walking in truth” (2 John 4).
These children could be literal children, but more likely it’s John speaking in code about the members of the Lord’s church somewhere, the elect lady, the bride of Christ.
How blessed, how happy are we when there are those willing to walk in the truth?
Happy is the Man (127:4-5a).
How are children like arrows in the hand of a warrior?
Of course, the type of warrior that’s discussed here is the archer.
What do you suppose happens when an archer is in battle and he runs out of arrows?
Much like a soldier today who runs out of bullets, he is less protected, and needs to find some other way to fight, perhaps a way he’s not used to.
But the warrior with plenty of bullets, plenty of arrows, has a greater chance of survival, because he’s prepared for the fight.
Just as the warrior with a full quiver is happy, so too is a parent who has many children.
They bring such joy, it’s hard to describe.
Just the other day, I was sitting in my chair working on something, and Caroline was beside me playing along with Seth. Caroline started humming the tune of “Angry Words.”
Meanwhile Seth shows great affection for his siblings, and Asa is so free with his smiles.
They continue to bring me great joy and happiness, and I pray that this continues for as long as I live.
How happy are we when we have greater numbers than we expected?
Whenever we run out of bulletins, I am happy to know I should print more the following week!
It’s good to see so many people who want to walk in the truth of God’s Word!
In part, it’s good to see so that we might “speak with [our] enemies in the gate.”
Speak with an Enemy (127:5b).
There’s a saying made popular by a former president of the US: “Speak softly, but carry a big stick.”
In other words, don’t provoke a fight with your words, but let the other guy know that you’re prepared to defend yourself should the need arise. This should result in the other guy speaking kindly back to you.
This idea is present here in this passage. If you have children, then you can be confident that your line will go on.
Furthermore, you’ll have someone backing you up.
As much as we might fight with members of our family, more often than not, they will have your back when you really need it.
And as we age, the more children we have, the more likely we will be taken care of.
That’s often true for our biological families, and should certainly be true for our spiritual family.
Just as Paul wrote about taking care of the widows who have no family to take care of them (1 Tim. 5:16).
If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows.
Let’s be there for one another when we need each other most!
Let us not be ashamed so that we might be able to speak with our enemies in the gate: enemies like fear, loneliness, despair, sickness, and death.
If Lord has built this church, then the members who are here are a heritage, a gift from God.
And as a result, while we may be small in number compared to other churches, we take care of each other.
Yet the Lord has told us that, while the harvest is plentiful, the laborers are few (Matt. 9:37).
Unless the Lord builds the house.
If we walk in a way that we ought not walk, we should not expect our house to be accepted by the Lord.
He only accepts those He recognizes (Matt. 7:21-23).
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
Let us do things the way the Bible (God’s Word) tells us to do them, and we will be accepted.
If we do, we will receive a great heritage from the Lord.
We will have children walking in the truth, both kids in our homes and members in our churches.
And we’ll be happier than before, having each others’ backs when the chips are down!
Let’s be there for one another, lifting each other up when the opportunity arises.
If we love God, we will do this for our brethren! (1 John 4:21).
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
But we must make sure that we are one of His children first!