The House Builder
(H) A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. (1) If Yahweh does not build the house, those who build it labor in vain. If Yahweh does not keep watch over the city, its watchmen keep watch in vain. (2) (It is) in vain that you rise up early and stay up late, eating the bread of anxious toil, for he gives sleep to his beloved ones. (3) Behold, children (are) an inheritance from Yahweh. The fruit of the womb (is) a reward. (4) Like arrows in the hand of a warrior so (are) the children of one’s youth. (5) Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them. They shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate.
Note that this psalm and Psalm 72 are the only psalms specifically attributed to King Solomon. Several repetitions in the opening verse emphasize its message. Both lines of the verse began with the conditional phrase, “If Yahweh does not...” In the first line, the repetition of “build” places the focus on the house’s construction. In the second line, the repetition of “keep watch” emphasizes its maintenance (vs. 1). At the end of both lines and at the beginning of the next verse “in vain” appears three times (vss. 1 & 2). In essence, anything we seek to accomplish apart from Yahweh’s provision and protection is futile. With the “behold” (vs. 3), Solomon shifts the focus of the rest of the psalm to the blessings that “children” (found in both vss. 3 & 4) bring to their families.
The second verse contains an ambiguous statement that can be translated either as “he gives sleep to his beloved ones” or “he provides for his beloved ones even while they sleep.” While both are possible, the theme of this segment has led some to view the second verse as a euphemistic reference to the “mystery” of conception and suggest the following translation: “He provides (children) for his beloved ones even as they sleep.”
I. Yahweh alone establishes and maintains “the house.” (1 & 2)
II. Yahweh alone graces “the house” with the blessing of children. (3-5)
Yahweh alone establishes and maintains “the house” by providing us with children.
For married couples who desire to have children, few things in life can equal the joy and delight of welcoming a healthy newborn into the world. For those couples that know Yahweh, the entire reproductive process represents a miracle of grace and serves as an occasion for great praise. While infertility should never be viewed as a curse from God, it remains a huge source of frustration for many. It can be an opportunity for couples struggling to have children to trust God for the wisdom and strength they need to overcome the pain and distress of childlessness.
As a pastor, it has been my privilege to share with many families the joy of welcoming children into their homes while visiting them in the hospital and later dedicating their children to the Lord. Frequently I have read Psalm 127 to parents on such occasions, and as often as I have read these lines, they have never lost their ability to bring praise and delight to rejoicing families. The third verse which includes the phrase, “Behold, children are an inheritance from Yahweh,” contains three important implications which all parents should take to heart.
First, every child is a gift from Yahweh from the moment of conception. Because each child uniquely bears the image and likeness of the Creator, we are to treat each one entrusted to our care with the love and respect we would give to Yahweh, himself. Second, Yahweh gives to parents the specific children that enter their family and the grace to raise those children in ways that honor him. Some children come into our lives with great gifts intellectually and physically. Other children arrive with limitations and even disabilities. Along with each child, God has promised to provide parents with the wisdom, strength, and insight they need to raise each child for his glory if they are willing to draw on the resources he provides for the challenges they face.
Finally, every child is a trust from Yahweh, on temporary loan to parents for a few brief years. While some parents act as if their children belong to them, godly fathers and mothers never forget that our children actually belong to the Lord and are simply entrusted to our care during their growing up years. Godly parents should always keep in mind that we will be held accountable for how we have prepared our children for walking with God as adults. Parenthood truly is a wondrous calling and responsibility. It is one of life’s greatest challenges and, at the same time, one of its greatest joys.