Psalm 127: Unless the Lord Builds the House

Devotionals > Old Testament > Psalms > Psalm 127: Unless the Lord Builds the House

Psalm 127: Unless the Lord Builds the House

July 4, 2022


1 Chronicles 7-9Psalm 127Luke 8:1-15Colossians 2:8-15

Psalm 127:

The first part of the psalm focuses on work. All hard work leads to profit (Proverbs 14:23), but “unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (127:1). There is no ultimate profit, benefit, reward, or point to hard work unless you are working for the Lord. When you are working for God—whatever it is that you are doing, if you are doing it for him, that is to please him—then there is point to it all. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23, NIV).

With this focus on God and the eternal confidence that comes with the personal knowledge of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we can know that our “labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). But if we are not working “for the Lord,” if the Lord is not “building the house” or “watching over the city,” then rising up early, going late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil, all this is ultimately “in vain” (127:2).

The question then is how to ensure that the Lord is building the house of our lives? It comes down to our relationship with God: first of all, that we have put our faith in God, received the grace of Christ through that faith, and been transformed by his Holy Spirit. The house of our lives now is something that the Lord is building, and we are his. And then having committed our lives to Christ as a disciple, we do what we are doing for God. We aim to please him. We work as “unto the Lord,” not as people pleasers, but as God pleasers. We want to follow what he says in his Word. We obey his voice. None of us do it perfectly, for we are still sinners. But our desire now is to build his house, to expand his kingdom, to give our lives for his glory. And then our hard work has meaning—and eternal meaning.

The second half of the psalm switches from the public sphere of work to the private and the family. While some eat the bread of anxious toil to try to advance their career, and neglect their family, the psalmist reminds the reader that the family is the place of blessing for those who are parents. “Children are a heritage from the Lord” (127:3). They are “like arrows in the hand of a warrior” (127:4). With such a family you will not be put to shame even by your enemies in the public sphere, at the “gate” (127:5). Your family becomes a ballast and a resource, a testimony to who you are, a support and a shield. Next time your children are annoying you, remember: a heritage from the Lord, arrows in the hand of a warrior.


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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