Psalm 127 is one of the most practical passages in scripture. It talks about two areas that compete for our time and attention all the time – our work and our family. We could call this the passage for workaholics. Lots of us, particularly men, get our priorities out of whack in this area of life. Far too many work 60 to 80 or even 100 hours a week in the name of doing it for the family. That’s a lie. In this psalm of Ascents, Solomon deals with the one who can’t seem to stop working. He points out how all that hard work is worthless in God’s eyes.
There are two activities that he points out in the first verse that are in vain, or futile, if God is not in it. “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”.
- Building the house
- Watching the city
If we are doing either of these on our own, without God being involved, it’s a waste of time. God is concerned with how high a priority we place on our houses. It should not be the driving force. He also cares about our motives for why we are building a house. House building is vain when we engage in it without God!
God also makes it clear that security also needs to be done with Him involved or it too will be in vain. There have been a couple of occasions in scripture when God has removed Himself from the security of His people:
- The first instance is when safety is sought in the midst of sin. The sinner is never secure in sin.
- Man’s safety is only in God. When our efforts to be secure distract us from our devotion to God, we have no protection.
There is more effort in vain related to being a workaholic. “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest”. God created us with the need, and His design, for rest. God gives to those who have learned to rest in Him, not to those who strive in their own strength.
Children and the gift they bring are the focus of the last part of the chapter. We get things all out of balance. It isn’t work that is the crown of life. It is family – the children that God allows us to have. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward”. We may toil to build a house, but by giving us children God builds our home. “Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them”! In this time, it referred to the way children looked after their parents and saw that they were taken care of. Children are a blessing from the Lord. Challenging at times to raise, but a blessing none the less!