A Song of Ascents.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
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.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,Psalm 127 (ESV)
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
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 so typical of Solomon’s wisdom. It is profoundly insightful and rich, but brief and to the point. It can be read in less than a minute, yet begs for much more time to grasp its wisdom.
Breaking it up into stanzas is very easy because of the repeated themes. Verses 1-2 echo the “vain” pursuits of life leading to “anxiety eating”, compared to “the Lord’s” perspective which brings “love and sleep”. Verses 3-5 catch out attention with a resounding “Behold”, forcing us to meditate on the “heritage”, “reward”, and “no shame” that “children” are.
Put together, these two stanzas expose a common-sense, yet rarely perceived. reality of life on this earth. This earth is full of toil that makes us anxious and sleepless, but the Lord loves His own, and He takes care of our satisfaction at work, our safety at home, and our sleep at night. He does so, not by make life care-free, but by giving us something else that makes everything worth it—family.
This Psalm is a necessary perspective-adjustment for every believer. If you want your daily work not to be “vain”, then work hard, and leave the outcome of it all in the Lord’s hand. If you want your safety efforts not to be “vain”, then set up your security as best you can, and leave the worry of it to the Lord’s all-seeing eye. Work sensible hours, go to bed on time, enjoy your meal-times, and thank the Lord for His love.
Go love your family. Each of us have different family dynamics, so if married, spend time with your spouse; if you have young children, play with them; if your kids are out of the home, give them a call; if your parents are alive, be a source of joy to them in practical and relational ways.
The point is this. Life on this earth is full of worrisome tasks. Know the balance of hard work, and godly trust. Know the balance of being alert and sleeping soundly. Pay attention to God’s gift of family.