The pilgrim looks back from Jerusalem, back to his work and home. God’s thoughts begin to replace his thoughts. Afresh, or perhaps for the very first time, he begins to see his work and home as God sees them.
Theme: Pilgrims want the house of God to impact their house, so they look for God’s help, health, heritage, and heroes.
Note: Lessons which impact the home are important to learn for other areas of life. Note: Our spiritual family can apply the same principles.
God’s Help (127:1)
1 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.
House: Solomon knew a thing or two about literal house-building, but this word often refers to the home, the family, in the Bible.
House / City: Builders can build, watchmen can watch, but without God’s involvement their efforts are futile.
Do you believe this?
- Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)—9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
- Proverbs 21:31 (ESV)—31 The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.
- 1 Corinthians 3:7 (ESV)—7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
- Do I believe my work and home will fall apart unless I hold it all together?
- Do I overemphasize my importance in the success of my work and family? Do I underemphasize God’s importance and power in my work and home?
- Do I believe my children will fall apart if I’m not the perfect parent?
- Do I believe God gets into the hearts of kids who’ve had terrible families?
- Is my work and family experience filled will fear of failure?
God’s Health (127:2)
2 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.
The curse impacted work: Genesis 3:17, 19 (ESV)—17 …cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life…19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread…”
Eugene Peterson points to two cities as examples — Babel and Thessalonica.
- Babel: Genesis 11:4 (ESV)—4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
- Thessalonica: 2 Thessalonians 3:6–12 (ESV)—6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Do you take a living or do you earn a living?
- But there is a third way! Paul lived it.
The third way: Hard work, but with God and His balance.
- He gives to his beloved sleep: Rhythms, rest.
- Sleep is actually an aid to humility.
- God is a God who gives rest.
- He Sabbathed and gave the Sabbath: Genesis 2:3 (ESV)—3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
- But this is Sabbath from work. Remember, God worked. Adam worked. Work is pure.
Rest from your technologies. Time saving technologies rarely save time. We must work hard to make them work for us. If we don’t, we will work for them, slaves to the machine. But I am a slave of God, I belong to Him.
Rest: an hour a day / a day a week
Don’t escape into your work. See your work as worship, but not as worthy to be worshiped. Does your lifestyle cultivate balance and rest?
God’s Heritage (127:3)
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Part 2 of this song is all family focused.
Note of caution: since we live in a fallen world, believers expect that many of us will not be able to have children (or as many as we’d have liked to have) due to physical limitations, including age.
- Pains: Infertility / Miscarriages / Unexpected pregnancies / Undesirable slip out of child-bearing years
But pilgrims see the parent-child relationship as one of the more rewarding relationships of life. Ancient times: Replenished population to combat disease, war, and famine. Retirement of sorts as children eventually cared for their parents until death.
Do you see children as a heritage and reward from the Lord?
- They are a ministry.
- They help with sanctificaton.
- They make you more fruitful.
- Note: They are a natural result of marriage.
God’s Heroes (127:4-5)
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 5 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.
Arrows are projectile weapons.
- In that they are launched out.
- In that they accomplish purposes far from you.
- In that they aren’t supposed to come back.
- In that they are prepared for flight.
- Teach them grace and obedience.
- Cultivate spousal oneness.
Be a weapon yourself.
5 He will not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate: The idea is that the sons would be able to protect their father in his declining years, perhaps even in legal matters in the gate.
- Their version of social security and retirement.
- So the arrows return (in a good way).