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Thursday, June 13th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 127

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-5


Various considerations taken together require the opinion that this middle Song of Degrees was composed by Solomon. It suits the time of peaceful house-building and civil settlement and progress during which he reigned. It uses a word answering to his name Jedidiah, meaning beloved of the Lord, and seems in connection with it to refer to the promise made to him of wisdom, riches, honour, and length of days. “So He giveth His beloved sleep,” or to His beloved in sleep (2 Samuel 12:25; 1 Kings 3:5-15). It appears to suggest that the claims of the Temple to the efforts of builders are superior to those of any other intended erection. And it agrees with Solomon’s sententious style in his proverbs. The ambitions may not boast of their own wisdom and might; and the prosperous may not suppose they are self-sufficient. It is God who gives skill to plan and ability to execute. He is the Source of blessing.—The Caravan and Temple.


(Psalms 127:1-2)

I. That family greatness should be founded in the Divine blessing. “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Psalms 127:1). It has been the ambition of many to found a family and to hand down a name to posterity. The love of posthumous fame is a mania with some men. But if God be ignored and the law of righteousness disobeyed, the most colossal efforts to raise a distinguished and enduring house, though protected by all the laws that the ingenuity of the legislature can invent, will prove futile. The history of the changes that have taken place among the families of some of our old nobility furnishes some of the saddest and most humiliating revelations of social life.

II. That the safety of civil society is secured by the Divine blessing. “Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain” (Psalms 127:1).

It is sometimes a marvel with some how the vast populations of our large cities are fed: it is no less a marvel how they are protected. Around the masses of society is drawn the strong cordon of Divine law, and over all there rest the ample wings of the Divine protection. If the Lord were to withdraw His presence, the vigilance of the police and the utmost alertness of the civic authorities would not avail. Society would be unendurable, indeed impossible, as at present constituted, but for the action of our Divine Guardian. How much less can a spiritual commonwealth be reared or preserved without the blessing of God!

III. That the prosperity of society is dependent on the Divine blessing.

1. Labour is useless without the Divine blessing. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows” (Psalms 127:2). Labour is the prime necessity of man and the first condition of prosperity. The most princely fortunes have sprung from toil, and are kept together by it. A wealthy farmer when asked why he should trouble himself to rise so early as he did, replied“—If you want the world you must rise and seek it, and if you have the world you must rise and keep it.” Often more anxious labour is involved in taking care of this world’s goods than was spent in first acquiring them. And yet no amount of labour, no amount of parsimonious care will suffice, if God withhold His blessing.

“Except the Lord conduct the plan,
The best concerted schemes are vain,

And never can succeed;

We spend our wretched strength for nought:
But if our works in Thee be wrought,

They shall be blest indeed.”

2. Rest is a Divine gift. “For so He giveth His beloved sleep” (Psalms 127:2). Sleep is half meat; it is the most beneficent medicine of wearied and suffering humanity. “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12): if he eat much when he ought to eat little, or if his plenty be a load upon his conscience, or if his godless puzzle day and night be how to retain. The man loved of God may lie down in peace and sleep. Prosperity brings no joy to him who cannot sleep.


1. Jehovah is the founder, defender, and preserver of the family, the State, and the Church. 2. The happiness of society rests, not on the wisdom and toil of its most gifted members, but on the Divine blessing.


(Psalms 127:3-5)

I. That children are the gift of God. “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Psalms 127:3). This view is frequently and emphatically stated (Genesis 30:2; Genesis 30:18; Genesis 33:5; Genesis 48:9; Deuteronomy 7:13; Proverbs 19:14). The gift of children is an evidence of the Divine favour. They are to be welcomed with joy and affection, and not to be regarded as an encumbrance and a burden. The childless pair, whatever worldly affluence they possess, feel that one of heaven’s choicest gifts is withheld. It is a most unenviable home, if home it can be called, where a child is unwelcome.

II. That children are to be firmly and judiciously trained. “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth” (Psalms 127:4). They are a sacred trust and solemn responsibility: not to be weakly fondled or foolishly spoilt; but to be wisely, kindly, and strictly disciplined to obedience and duty. “Parents must not trifle with their children, like idiots playing with sharp tools; but as the bowman straightens and polishes his arrow, gives it a solid point and wings it with proper feathers, they must educate their sons and daughters in the name, and with the help of the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” The arrows that are not prepared and directed when in the hand, may, when they are gone abroad into the world and all parental training is too late, prove arrows in the heart.

III. That a large family is a source of domestic joy. “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them” (Psalms 127:5). The parents live over again the happy period of their youth in the gambols and laughter, and the indescribable “little ways” of their children. It is a dismal house where there is a silent nursery. It may be scrupulously clean and faultlessly prim, but there is a strangely felt absence of life, of voice, of genial humanity. When the father of John Wesley received his son unscathed from the window of the burning parson age, he exclaimed, “Come, neighbours, let us kneel down; let us give thanks unto God: He has given me all my eight children; let the house go, I am rich enough.” The good children of a large family help one another, and are a source of comfort and support to their aged parents.

IV. That children are the strength and defence of the home. “They shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalms 127:5). The parents shall courageously plead their cause in courts of judicature, which were held at the gates of cities, not fearing to be crushed by the might of their adversaries, as weak and helpless persons frequently are. Or, as some understand the words, the children shall not be ashamed to plead for their parents in the gates, but will be ready at all times to appear for them, to answer any charge, and to vindicate them in their persons, their good name, or their property. The Chinese have a proverb—“When a son is born into a family, a bow and arrow are hung before the gate.” In Eastern books sons are spoken of as the arrows of their fathers. People fear to offend a family where there are many sons, lest the arrows should be sent at them. The training of children has a reflex influence for good upon parents. Many a hint is unconsciously given as to “training up a parent in the way he should go.”


1. A large family has its cares, but it has also its special rewards.

2. The training of children is also a training of the parents.

3. Children may become the greatest blessing, or the greatest curse.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 127". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/psalms-127.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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