Psalm 127 “The Watchman Stays Awake In Vain”

Posted on May 9, 2012. Filed under: Daily Journey |

Wednesday,05-09-12 Bryan E. Walker

Psalm 127 is a wisdom Psalm, sounding very much like things you would find in Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, and this is perfectly understandable as we see that Solomon is the author of this Song of Ascents. The psalm has two parts: vss. 1-2 and vss.3-5. The first part points out how vain it is to do anything without the Lord and the second part points out that children are a blessing from the Lord, amplifying point 1 in a positive manner. The main idea is that if the Lord is in it, blessings follow, if the Lord is not in it, all is vain.


The first point speaks of building a house. Is Solomon thinking of the actual construction of his own royal residence, or is he thinking of the House of the Lord? The construction of theTempleis recorded in 1Kings 5-6. Notice what the Lord tells Solomon during the beginning of construction in 1Kgs.6:11-13 “Now the word of the Lord came to Solomon, ‘Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children ofIsraeland will not forsake my peopleIsrael.’” I believe that when Psalm 127 is read in light of 1Kgs.6 we can believe that the Psalm is written about the house of the Lord, but that it can also be applied to a person’s home, in light of the second part of the psalm.


Visualize Solomon leading the procession up to the newly constructedTemplein its dedication in 1Kgs8 and you can see where Psalm 127 may have come from. After 7 years of construction Solomon is seeing the fruits of his labor and he realizes, “Unless the Lord has built this house, it is all in vain!”


What the Lord told Solomon about this beautifulTemplewas that IF you walk in my statutes and obey my commandments, THEN I will establish my word with you and I will dwell amongIsrael. These were the conditions of the covenant withIsrael. The Lord goes on to state in 1Kgs 9:6-9 “But if you turn aside from following me, you or your children, and do not keep my commandments and my statutes that I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land that I have given them and the house that I have consecrated for my name I will cast out of my sight, and Israel will become a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And this house will become a heap of ruins. Everyone passing by it will be astonished and will hiss, and they will say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore the Lord has brought all this disaster on them.’”


There came a time when the Lord stopped watching over the city, and destruction came uponJudah,Jerusalem, and theTemplewas destroyed. The people had long before stopped worshipping the Lord and had incorporated idol worship into an unholy blend with YHWH worship. That is what the world frequently asks us to do: “You don’t have to totally abandon Jesus, just acknowledge that He is not the only way, the only life and the only truth.” Syncretism is a subtle sin that seems innocuous at first. InIsrael’s life king Solomon himself brought in many false gods because of his many marriages. But the problem was there all along, back at Sinai with the golden calves, in the book of Judges. This temptation remains with us today.


We need to be watchful, we need to pray and keep watch with the Lord. This means keeping watch over our own souls and those whom the Lord has entrusted to us. It means being vigilant against sin, and for holiness. It means being watchful over sound doctrine and the pure gospel, the faith once delivered. And it means being watchful over the city- we as Christians are like the Ranger Strider (Aragorn) who protected the Shire without their even knowing about it (Tolkien’s Hobbit) in that we are to be the salt of the earth, preserving society from ruin with the proclamation of the gospel, our prayers, and our God honoring lives. Christians have a protective role over society in that as the gospel is spread, sin is restrained and judgment averted. The history ofIsrael shows what happens when the Believers compromise and fail. The Lord judges.


Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.


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