Unless the Lord Builds the House

I often find myself drawn to Psalm 127, particularly it’s opening phrase, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain.’

This, of course, was reflected in Jesus’ response to Peter’s magnificent declaration of His divine identity (‘you are the Christ, the son of the living God’) when Jesus included in his reply the words, ‘I will build my church’ (Matt 16: 18). God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are together architect and site manager of the world’s greatest building project and, although we are sons and daughters, we are servants too – we are serving his purposes. How easy it is to forget that!

I think that’s why the psalmist has included a verse which basically says, ‘why are you burning the candle at both ends, driving yourself to a nervous breakdown, when all I’m calling you to do is some manageable tasks each day, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which will give you plenty of time to catch enough sleep and rest ready for the next day?’

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Ps 127: 2)

I was at a meeting recently, where a young lady shared something of what she felt God was saying to her through a season she was going through. The word from God was simply, ‘you rest, I work!’

However, I have often been confused by the rest of the psalm, verses 3 – 5. Here we seem to move off-topic and on to the blessings of children both randomly and suddenly. What has this got to do with building God’s house?

The solution may lie in the next psalm, number 128. Many people read it alongside Ps 127.

The first verse of Ps 128 immediately encourages us to ‘fear the Lord’ and ‘walk in his ways’. We might say, remember who is in charge – He’s the architect and site manager. Follow his commands and do the things He has called you to do. Then (v 2), you will see the fruit of your labour, but you will see it in two places.

First, God’s building and city will grow and flourish, according to His plans – ‘may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem’ (v 5). The one who builds the house (and watches over the city – see 127: 1) wants his children to experience the joy of a job well done in partnership with Him. But that’s not all.

The rest of the psalm describes a family blessed by the Lord. The Psalmists wife is a fruitful vine, sons or children are like olive shoots, fresh and full of hope. As we build His way, in His timescale and in His strength, not relying on our own energy or motivated by our own agendas, then even our homes are blessed.

The Best is Yet to Come – Pastor Terry

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