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Life & Trust In God

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PSALM 127  

Psalm 127 is the eighth in the collection of songs of ascents (Psalms 120-134).

  • The Psalm acknowledges dependence on God in the basic areas of ordinary life.
  • Used as a song for pilgrims, it discloses an important reason why the pilgrims make the journey to give thanks to God.
  • Work and family were the two constitutive dimensions of ordinary life in Israel.
  • Life was set in the social unit of the family and supported by work.
  • Psalms of ascent (127; 128; 131; 133) reflecting domestic life in good order. They are the voice of genuine gratitude and piety for such rich blessings.
  • Yahweh’s smile of favour, or rather his active involvement in the undertaking, is essential.


1.        The Building    

Human effort is spent: “build the house…” [127:1].

§  בַ֗יִת - “house” [127:1], ‘temple’; ‘dwelling place’;

a.       A Home

The “house” can be a ‘dwelling place for a family’:

§  Lot: “turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house…” [Gen.19:2].

§  Laban: “Laban…brought Jacob to his house” [Gen.29:13].

b.       A Family

The “house” can be a reference to the family itself:

§  Noah: “Come thou and all thy house into the ark…” [Gen.7:1].

§  Israel: “like Rachel and like Leah, which two did build the house of Israel…” [Ruth 4:11].

c.        A Life

The “house” can be a reference to life as a whole:

§  Jesus: “a wise man who built his house upon a rock…” [Mat.7:24].

§  Paul: “I know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle…” [2Cor.5:1].

2.        The Human Endeavour  

The human effort: “build the house…” [127:1].

§  לֹא־יִבְנֶ֬ה - “build” [127:1], ‘to make, erect, construct’;

§  Creativity: “the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman…” [Gen.2:22].

3.        Trusting in God

a.       The Work of God

The necessity of God’s activity: “except the Lord…” [127:1].

§  אִם - “except” [127:1], ‘if’; ‘a conditional clause’;

§  יְהוָ֤ה - “Lord” [127:1], ‘the covenant God of Israel’ [Exo.3:15].

b.       The Fruitless Effort

The fruitless and pointless efforts: “they labour in vain that build…” [127:1].

§  עָמְל֣וּ - “labour” [127:1], ‘put forth considerable energy and toil’;

§  שָׁ֤וְא - “in vain” [127:1], ‘that which has no result or use’;

§  | The MERCY of God§  Barrier to complete chaos |

To build a house was no guarantee of prolonged habitation: another might live in it [Isa.65:22-23; Amos 5:11; Deu.28:33].


The enterprises and conflicts of ‘domestic life’:

§  Chaos: family breakdown; marriage breakdown; natural love bonds;

§  Immorality: relationships;


1.        The City  

Man’s environment: “keep the city…” [127:1].

§  עִ֝֗יר - “city” [127:1], ‘permanent settlement’; ‘population centre, large or small’;

a.       The Significance

The “city” was significant in that it was central to Israel’s life:

§  Commercial centre: “land of trade; city of merchants…” [Eze.17:4].

§  Religious centre: “the tribes go up to the testimony of Israel” [122:4].

§  Security: “tell her towers; mark her bulwarks…” [48:12]. 

2.        The Human Effort

The human effort: “the watchman wakes in vain” [127:1].

§  שׁוֹמֵֽר - “watchmen” [127:1], ‘guard’; ‘cause a state or condition to remain’;

§  שָׁקַ֬ד - “wake” [127:1], qal perfect, ‘to be awake’; ‘to watch out for’;

a.       The Fruitlessness

The fruitlessness of human effort: “wake in vain…” [127:1].

§  שָׁ֤וְא - “in vain” [127:1], ‘that which has no result or use’;

3.        Activity of God 

a.       God’s Activity

The necessity for God’s activity: “except the Lord keep the city…” [127:1].

§  לֹֽא־יִשְׁמָר - “keep” [127:1], ‘guard’; ‘cause a state or condition to remain’;

§  אִם - “except” [127:1], conditional clause, ‘if’;

§  עִ֝֗יר - “city” [127:1], ‘population centre, large or small’;

b.       Jerusalem

The city of Jerusalem: “the city shall be flourishing…” [72:16].

§  Building: “Lord doth build up Jerusalem…” [147:2].

§  Prosperity: “the city of our God: God will establish it for ever” [48:9].

§  Watching: “he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” [121:4].

c.        The Tower of Babel

Humankind in rebellion against God: “be fruitful…replenish the earth” [Gen.1:28].

§  Human effort: “Go to, let us build a city and a tower…” [Gen.11:4].

§  The goal: “let us make us a name…” [Gen.11:4].

§  Fruitless: “Lord scattered them abroad…ceased to build the city” [Gen.11:8].

The MERCY of God§  Barrier to complete chaos


The ‘centre of national life’; need watchfulness:  

§  City analysts; investment managers.  

§  Absence of God: religious world; business world; security world.

§  The challenge: political; financial; religious.


1.        The Toil of Human Effort

The restless toil of human effort: “it is vain for you…” [127:2].

§  שָׁ֤וְא - “vain” [127:2], ‘that which has no result or use’;

a.       Early Rising

The early rising: “to rise up early…” [127:2].

§  ק֡וּם - “rise up” [127:2], ‘to stand up, get up’;

§  מַשְׁכִּ֪ימֵי - “early” [127:2], ‘take action early in the morning’;

b.       Late Working

The long hours: “to sit up late…” [127:2].

§  מְאַֽחֲרֵי – “late” [127:2], ‘to remain’; ‘to extend a period of time’;

§  שֶׁ֗בֶת - “sit up” [127:2], ‘to inhabit, stay in one place’;

c.        The Toil

The toil of work: “eat the bread of sorrows…” [127:2].

§  אֹ֭כְלֵי - “eat” [127:2], ‘to consume food’;

§  לֶ֣חֶם הָעֲצָבִ֑ים - “bread of sorrows” [127:2], ‘pain, trouble, difficulty’;

§  The frustrating labour: “in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of thy life…” [Gen.3:17].

§  Bread eaten with no peace of mind:

2.        The Joy  

a.       Trusting in the Lord

The benefit of trusting in the Lord: “so he gives his beloved…” [127:2].

§  יִתֵּ֖ן - “he gives” [127:2], ‘to place in the possession of someone’;

§  לִֽידִיד֣וֹ - “beloved” [127:2], ‘one dearly beloved’;

§  The birth of Solomon: “called his name Jedidiah because of the Lord” [2Sam.12:24-25].

§  The blessing of Moses: “of Benjamin he said, the beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders” [Deu.33:12].

b.       The Joy – Anxiety Free

The restful joy of trusting: “so he gives his beloved…” [127:2].

§  שֵׁנָֽא - “sleep” [127:2], ‘not awake’; ‘at rest’;

§  Solomon’s wisdom: “Solomon awoke; and behold it was a dream…” [1Kgs.3:3-15].

c.        Psalm 128

The blessing of God: “blessed is everyone that fears…” [128:1].

§  | The CONTRAST§  Anxiety & rest |

Work: “eat the labour of your hands…” [128:2].

§  Contentment: “happy shalt thou be…” [128:2].


Sleep is the Lord’s gift to mankind and a special mark of steadfast love to his people

§  Anxiety: “take no thought for your life…” [Mat.6:25-34].

§  Prosperity: “righteousness exalts a nation; sin is a reproach” [Pro.14:34].

§  Provision: “I will abundantly bless her provision…” [132:15].

§  The blessing: “like a man who built his house upon a rock…” [Mat.7:24].


1.        The Family  

The blessings of the Lord flow out from a godly family.

a.       The Heritage

The perpetuity of believing families is assured: “children are the heritage of the Lord…” [127:3].

§  בָּנִ֑ים - “children” [127:3], ‘child’; ‘immediate offspring of a parent’;

§  נַחֲלַ֣ת - “heritage” [127:3], ‘inheritance’; ‘property or land given by one person to a successive generation’;

b.       The Reward

The perpetuity is God’s gift: “the fruit of the womb…” [127:3].

§   פְּרִ֣י - “fruit” [127:3], ‘any produce from crop-bearing plants’;

§  הַבָּֽטֶן - “womb” [127:3], ‘female reproductive organs’;

§  שָׂ֝כָ֗ר - “reward” [127:3], ‘wage’; ‘amount offered and given for services rendered’;

c.        Psalm 128

The blessing for those who fear God: “blessed is everyone that fears the Lord” [128:1].

§  Marriage: “thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine…” [128:3].

§  Family: “thy children like olive plants round about…” [128:3].


The concern of true Israel: ‘to have sons, godly sons’.

§  Sons were prized in the ANE: “Lord shut Hannah’s womb…heart grieved” [1Sam1].

2.        The Present Blessing

Second, God gives a sense of security and protection in the godly family.

a.       Security

Sons bring security: “as the arrows are in the hand of a mighty man…” [127:4].

§  כְּחִצִּ֥ים - “as the arrows” [127:4], ‘shooting missile shot with a bow’;

§  גִּבּ֑וֹר - “mighty man” [127:4], ‘powerful, strong’; ‘to have political or military force’;

§  בְּנֵ֣י - “children” [127:4], ‘child’; ‘immediate offspring of a parent’;

§  הַנְּעוּרִֽים - “of youth” [127:4], ‘childhood, youth’;

b.       Blessing

Security means blessing: “happy is that man…” [127:5].

§  אַשְׁרֵ֤י - “happy” [127:5], ‘blessed’; emphasis = life in right relation to God [84:5].

§  אַשְׁפָּת֗וֹ - “quiver” [127:5], ‘quiver for arrows’;

§  מִלֵּ֥א - “filled” [127:5], piel perfect, ‘to fill up’; piel, ‘to finish a period’;


The psalmist uses a metaphor of war as he likens the children…

§  Blessing: “

§  Protection: arrows protect the warrior; godly man need not be afraid, when blessed with sons.

3.        The International Security  

a.       The Prosperity

The promised benefit: “they shall not be ashamed…” [127:5].

§  לֹֽא־יֵבֹ֑שׁוּ - “not be ashamed” [127:5], ‘painful feeling and emotional distress’;

                                                                                                         i.            OT Concept

The Old Testament concept relates to the presence of God:

§  Sin: “I am ashamed…our iniquities are increased over our head” [Ezr.9:6].

§  Defeat: “let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me” [25:2]. 

§  Salvation: “for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth…” [Isa.54:4].

§  Triumph: “they trusted in thee, and were not confounded…” [22:6].

b.       The International Peace

They will negotiate with the enemy: “but they shall speak with the enemies…” [127:5].

§  יְדַבְּר֖וּ - “speak” [127:5], ‘verbal communication’;

§  אוֹיְבִ֣ים - “enemies” [127:5], ‘to be openly hostile towards another’;

                                                                                                         i.            The Gate

The discussion will take place: “in the gate” [127:5].

§  בַּשָּֽׁעַר - “gate” [127:5], ‘entrance area’; ‘opening in wall or fence’;

§  Significance: ‘where people gathered for market where business is done’.

§  Legal matters: “Boaz went up to the gate…” [Ruth 4:1].

§  International matters: “speak with the enemy…” [127:5].


The gate = religious conflicts; political bench; the legal courtroom; international relations

§  ANE - thought of the children providing protection in time of trouble and old age.

§  ANE - work of national restoration had to be defended step by step against open enemies.

§  A quiver full of these would help to defend the family when it was under attack.

§  The covenant blessing: “thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies” [Gen.22:17].

§  Justice: “they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right” [Amos 5:12].

The BLESSING of God§  Settled family life – relationships§  Security of family life§  National & International security  The TWO aspects of the message: 1.       THANKS TO GOD – provided despite our unfaithfulness 2.       REMINDER – trust in the Lord in every area of life.

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