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. 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.3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward. 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.
I have always loved this Psalm, but for years had a hard time reconciling the two stanzas.
On first glance, it seems to be about two different things that don't really gell together. But as you meditate on it- it makes sense in a variety of applications.
Working in vain is one of the great disappointments in life. To invest time and energy in a project only to see it 'vanish' in the wind builds a flood of frustration and stinging anguish. And it doesn't matter if the project is BIG or small.
Just think back to a time where you wrote a paper, or project (or blog post) and experienced a computer crash without saving it. See what I mean?
Are there relationships you spent your life cultivating only to see them vanish like vapor?
One of the most heartbreaking conversations I ever had was with a retired basketball coach. He was thought to be one of the finest men and expert coaches to ever work locally in the sport.
He spent 2 decades building a quality Jr. College program, even taking it to national prominence. It was a showpiece of the school.
This well respected coach retired- and the school soon after that, disbanded the entire program.
It hurt him for years. He told me that it was difficult to see all the recruiting trips, sleepless nights, fund raisers, and battles end up as a handful of sand.
Is it possible to keep singing in the aftermath of such a circumstance?
We have an entire book in the Bible around this theme- Solomon exclaims in Ecclesiastes that all of life under the sun is in vain.
The principle in the Psalm helps us.
All endeavors connected to the Lord in acknowledgement, worship, and sacrifice are NEVER in vain.
All endeavors NOT connected to the Lord in acknowledgement, worship, and sacrifice are ALWAYS in vain.
Let's look at these two scenarios in both a negative light and a positive light.
THE LIFE LIVED WITHOUT A PROPER RECOGNITION AND RESPONSE TO THE CREATOR AND THE RICHES OF HIS MERCY AND HIS GRACE.
The Psalmist says that without Him, all efforts and achievements are ultimately worth nothing. Jesus says it is like a man building a house on sand. Even if we have great talent. Even if we work to high standards of excellence. Even if we receive the acclamation of the world.
Eventually the crash will happen- and it is swift and sudden.
Look at selected verses of Psalm 37 and pay attention to what it says:
Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
For the evildoers shall be cut off, In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him, but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.
I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree. But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.
One of the big issues of people who live a life accepting all of God's gifts without gratitude, humility, or obedience are actually throwing it right back into God's face. The greatest insult is a rejection of God's Son- which I believe is the 'unpardonable sin' in Mark 3 and Matthew 12.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THOSE WHO LIVE IGNORING GOD AND REJECTING HIM
- Frantic work without productivity, joy, or peace.
- Anxiousness- it can all be taken away.
- Selfishness- you think that you earned it and deserve it
- Improper priorities- the sacrifice or worthwhile things for worthless pursuits.
- Ruined relationships.
- No impact for the kingdom of God.
CONTRAST THIS WITH ......
THE LIFE LIVED WITH A PROPER RECOGNITION AND RESPONSE TO THE CREATOR AND THE RICHES OF HIS MERCY AND HIS GRACE.
PSALM 37 AGAIN.......
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.
Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked. For the Lord upholds the righteous.
The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the Lord upholds his hand. I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread. He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing. those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
NOW.. Here is where the 2nd stanza of this Psalm 127 comes in.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warriorare the children of one's youth. Blessed is the manwho fills his quiver with them!He shall not be put to shamewhen he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
CHARACTERISTICS OF THOSE WHO LIVE ACKNOWLEDGING GOD AND LOVING HIM
- Work with productivity, joy, AND peace.
- Peace-- He gives and takes away for our good and His glory
- UN-Selfishness- It is His and I can share
- Proper priorities- I love people more than things
- Restored relationships.
- Huge impact for the kingdom of God.
AND THESE THINGS CAN BE TANGIBLY SEEN IN A STABLE, FORGIVING, AND GROWING FAMILY.
Of course, we all know the difference in idealism and sin tarnished reality. But I have seen godly men endure life with a song BECAUSE they devoted themselves to their marriages and their children as a direct response to God's presence and grace.
May we all have the courage to forsake worthless pursuits that can disappear in a microwave moment and invest in those things that really matter.
If we do that- we have more songs to sing on our journey upward and onward!
That is why my life song is this verse....I Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.