Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 127

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 1

Psalms 127:0.

The virtue of God's blessing. Good children are his gift.

A Song of Degrees for Solomon.

Title. לשׁלמה המעלות שׁיר Shiir hammangaloth lishlomoh.] This is said to have been composed by Solomon, and is observed to be a commentary upon a pious maxim, which is several times repeated in the Proverbs, That no endeavours of man can be prosperous, without the blessing and assistance of God. Mr. Mudge, however, observes, that there seems to be no other reason for attributing the psalm to Solomon, than that the first verse talks of building a house. It evidently points to a certain family, which God had blessed with security, affluence, and children; and was occasioned, I suppose, by the lovely appearance they made when they came to present themselves before the temple, to pay the customary homage to God.

Psalms 127:1. Except the Lord, &c.— In this first verse the Psalmist shews how vain it is to attempt any thing, if the Lord do not prosper it, both in relation to private families and public societies; for by building the house, is meant the increase of children and the bringing them up in the fear of Jehovah; by which houses, i.e. families, are built up, supported, and continued. In this sense the expression is used, Genesis 16:2., Exodus 1:21., Deuteronomy 25:9; Deuteronomy 25:19. As, unless God keep the city, that is, guard and preserve public societies, the watchmen will do little good; so unless God build up private families, all the industry of men will not be successful for that purpose.

Verse 2

Psalms 127:2. It is vain, &c.— It is vain for you, ye that rise early, and late take rest: that eat the bread of fatigue: it is thus he giveth sleep to his beloved. Mudge: who observes, that the words, it is thus he giveth, and behold, in the next verse, evidently point, as he suggests in the note on the title, to a particular person whom God had blessed, without which all endeavours are vain. Some render the last clause, Since he giveth to his beloved sleep: but Green translates the passage, "It is in vain for you to rise up, &c.—unless the Lord bless your endeavours: whereas he giveth to his beloved even while they sleep." The plain meaning seems to be, that God affords and bestows to his beloved, or to good men, rest and comfort of life; and withal provides as much wealth for them and their families, as is best for them; and indeed, much more genuine wealth, than they can procure who incessantly harass and fatigue themselves, and deny themselves the enjoyment of all worldly comforts, in order to enrich their posterity. Mr. Merrick seems to have expressed it well in his paraphrase:

Why rise ye early, late take rest, And eat the bread of care? The balm of sleep, his gift confest, His children only share.

Verses 4-5

Psalms 127:4-5. Children of the youth, &c.— These are opposed to the children of old age; and of these it is frequently observed, that they are the strongest, being, as Jacob says of Reuben, his might, the beginning of his strength; and of such it is here said, they are at arrows in the hands of the mighty Man 1:1 :e. able to defend their parent against the attempts of his enemies, as well as weapons can be. His quiver full of them, means his house as full of children as the quiver of a mighty man is of arrows. They shall speak with the enemies in the gate, means, they shall plead for him against his adversaries, in the courts of judicature; which, as we have frequently remarked, were held at the gates of cities.

REFLECTIONS.—The less we depend on our own schemes, or lean to our own understanding, and the more we look up to God, and seek help and direction from him, the surer will be the prosperity of every work of our hands.

1. Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Whatever projects we may conceive for the advancement of ourselves or families; whatever plans we may draw, for rearing up some noble pile for our abode, it is a Babel tower, and the family will be miserable, unless the Lord give his blessing and success. And if in temporals, much more in spirituals, are we bound to depend upon him; the wisest of ministers, and the best of men, cannot square one of the living stones to raise the church of God, unless his power and grace work effectually with them.

2. As vain is the watchman's care. It is not the multitude of guards, or their wakeful vigilance, but a greater Guardian who can preserve the city. The most vigilant and active watchman upon the walls of Zion, cannot prevent the irruption of heretics, and the breaches of ungodliness: this must come from above; nevertheless, he must do his duty as an unworthy instrument.
3. Vain are all our anxious labours, without God's blessing. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows earned by hard toil; all this care, assiduity, and diligence, is fruitless; if God be not regarded, he will disappoint the hopes of the worldly-minded, and mar all their labours. But where honest industry is employed in dependance upon him, so he giveth his beloved sleep, no carking cares disturb the repose of such; they sleep in peace, in the arms of the Divine love, and rise refreshed and happy, to enjoy the new mercies which, with the returning day, are showered upon them.

4. Children are God's gifts. He that formed the first man from the clay, must form each embryo in the womb; and when they are given, from him it comes that these children are our blessings and reward; the most pious parent sees a corrupted offspring, till God, by his grace, converts them, and makes them doubly our comfort and joy.
5. They are happy who have these gifts of God. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth, those sprung from parents in the prime of their youth: or who are themselves grown up healthy and strong, able to assist their parents in their declining age. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, their ill conduct shall never reflect upon or grieve their parents, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate; their children will be their advocates, and their number and strength, their support and defence. Happy the parent blest with such children! Happy such children as learn thus to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents' labours of love!

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 127". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/psalms-127.html. 1801-1803.
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