Psalm 127

Psalm 127[a]

Need of Divine Assistance

1 A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

[b]If the Lord does not build the house,[c]
those who construct it labor in vain.
If the Lord does not guard the city,
those who keep watch over it do so in vain.
2 It is useless for you to rise earlier
and delay taking your rest at night,
toiling relentlessly for the bread you eat;
for while those he loves sleep,
he provides all of this for them.[d]
3 [e]Behold, children are a gift from the Lord,
a reward of the fruit of the womb.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are the children born in one’s youth.[f]
5 Blessed is the man
who has filled his quiver with them.
He will never be forced to retreat
when he is confronted by his enemies at the city gate.[g]

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 127:1 Without God, human undertakings are doomed to fail. It is God who is responsible for all of life’s blessings (see Deut 28:1-14). There is no need for us to become overly anxious. His providence takes care of us (see Mt 6:25-34; Jn 15:5). This is the constant teaching of the Old and New Testament. Nowadays, we know that natural laws follow a determined course that can be put to use in invention, technology, and the human sciences. But what do we expect to achieve? And if our endless affairs take away from us our time and taste for true joys, e.g., that of breaking bread together and of the fraternal home—what then?
    We can and should recite this beautiful psalm in its original sense to praise the Lord who fills us with earthly goods and gifts. We can also transpose it to the spiritual plane to express our radical impotence in this sphere and to proclaim that all success and supernatural fecundity suppose the concurrence of Christ Jesus, acting in the name of the Father, in the Holy Spirit (see Jn 15:4f).
  2. Psalm 127:1 The psalmist wishes to have the people become more God-centered in their everyday lives, for it is the Lord who provides shelter, security, and food.
  3. Psalm 127:1 The building of a house may refer to the construction of a house within the protective walls of the city or to the raising of a “family,” for in the Old Testament it is usual to speak of a family as a house in much the same way as we speak of a prominent family as a dynasty (see Gen 16:2; 30:3; Ex 1:21; Ru 4:11; 1 Sam 2:35; 2 Sam 7:27). Even the best watchmen (see 2 Sam 13:34; 18:24-27; Song 3:3; 5:7) are not enough to protect the city against attack unless the Lord is guarding it (see Pss 121:4; 132).
  4. Psalm 127:2 The higher way of life is to trust the Lord in one’s work. A good harvest results from God’s blessing, not endless toil (see Prov 10:22; Mt 6:25-34; 1 Pet 5:7).
  5. Psalm 127:3 It is the Lord, too, who as a sign of his favor gives sons who ensure the perpetuity of the family that is faithful to him and provide protection for the family members.
  6. Psalm 127:4 Children, especially sons, also provide a sense of security and protection for the family—especially if they are born early in the parents’ life (see Prov 17:6; Lam 3:13). As the arrows protect the warrior, so do sons guard the godly man.
  7. Psalm 127:5 A house full of children is a protection against loneliness and abandonment in society. They will speak on behalf of their aging parents, especially at the city gate, where court was held (see Ps 69:13; Deut 17:5; 21:19; 22:15, 24; Prov 31:23; Am 5:12).

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