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Bible Commentaries

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

Psalms 127

Verses 1-2

1. The futility of labor without faith 127:1-2

These verses recall the spirit of Ecclesiastes with its emphasis on futility. It is foolish, frustrating, and futile to attempt projects without seeking God’s blessing. This applies to building a house and building a household. It also applies to the much larger task of defending a city. Putting in long hours of hard work will only lead to weariness. Conversely, those who trust in the Lord-His beloved-experience rest. Solomon was not denigrating hard work but was advocating dependence on the Lord as one works.

Verses 1-5

Psalms 127

Solomon spoke of God’s blessing in family life in this ascent psalm that is also a wisdom psalm. Trust in God yields domestic benefits that hard work alone cannot provide.

Verses 3-5

2. The providential blessings of God 127:3-5

The folly of working all the time and not trusting in the Lord should be obvious when one considers that much of what we enjoy does not come from working hard. Many of life’s best blessings come as gifts from God. Children are one of these great gifts. God gives them to a couple or withholds them, as He chooses, regardless of how much a husband and wife may strive to obtain them. Under the Mosaic economy God promised to bless the godly with children (Deuteronomy 28:4), but He gave no such promise to Christians. Therefore it is a mistake to conclude that the more children a Christian couple has the more godly they are.

In Solomon’s day, grown children normally cared for their parents in their old age. They would defend them as the parents became increasingly dependent and vulnerable. That is what Solomon evidently had in mind in Psalms 127:4-5. Children (sons) can be a defense for their parents from exterior and interior foes. Arrows defend against attacking invaders. Negotiating in the gate pictures defending against enemies who would seek to rob the defenseless through legal maneuvering and bring shame on them. Thus children can be a kind of insurance policy, but not one that someone can work hard to buy. They are a gift from God.

The godly need to recognize that people are never self-made. We owe all that we possess to God’s providence ultimately. Consequently, we should avoid the trap of depending totally on ourselves for all we need in life. Instead, we should trust God as we work and acknowledge His good gifts.

"No amount of human sacrifice or toil can accomplish much unless God’s blessing is upon His people." [Note: Ibid., p. 346.]

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 127". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-127.html. 2012.