GOD should both BUILD & PROTECT our VALUABLE HERITAGE: "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain...behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward." (Psalms 127:1, 3)
Psalm 127 is categorized as a wisdom psalm that is attributed to King Solomon. This psalm links the welfare of the family to the welfare of the city, and also connects both of them to God. Through this psalm we are challenged to consider if we value our children as much as God does. The important lesson to be learned from this psalm is that all human efforts are in vain unless they have the blessings and active participation of God Almighty. The human efforts would include building a house (v. 1a), guarding a city (v. 1b), working long hours (v. 2), and raising children (vv. 3–5). It is possible to put in a lot of human effort without God’s blessing, but it is not possible to accomplish them purposefully and with eternal value without God’s blessing!
In order to prove that all our efforts are fruitless if God is not in them, the psalmist begins with the metaphor of a house. To understand this metaphor, we need to go back into the Hebrew root meaning of some important words. The Hebrew word for “son” is ‘ben’, and the Hebrew word for “daughter” is ‘bat’. These two words are similar to the Hebrew verb ‘banah’, meaning “to build”. To the Israelite, a house is an opportunity to “build” both sons and daughters. So, God has to play a part, and parents must team up with God in the building of a Christian home. God will do the building, but He does it through the parents!
A home built without the blessing of God is as unstable as a house built upon the sand, which falls apart easily under any outside pressure. However, when God is involved in the home building, it can withstand any outside pressure as it is strong and stable as a house built upon the rock (see Matt. 7:24-26). Only God builds and protects those things that have true value and durability, whether they are houses (v. 1) or children (v. 3). We read in this psalm that “children are a heritage from the Lord”. The meaning of the word “heritage” is “an inherited lot or portion”. Just as an inheritance is not the fruit of our own labor, children are the gift of God to parents and represent His true blessings (see Gen. 30:2, 18; 1 Sam. 1:19, 20). God gives us children, not as a penalty, but as a privilege!
Let us be clear that any efforts to develop a family apart from God will lead to nowhere. Our children should be raised up and trained in such a manner that God is both honored and obeyed by their lives. For that, they should be brought up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Children must always be looked upon as gifts from God. They are a sacred trust, and a holy heritage. The rabbis of old declared that a child has three parents: God, his father, and his mother (Gen. 20:17, 18). God will ultimately hold every parent accountable for their stewardship of good parenting!
The takeaway lesson from this psalm is that parents should allow God to build their children in His fear and also protect them from the attacks of Satan. Our Lord Jesus had warned us, “without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), and that truth is illustrated in this psalm with regard to raising our children. Our children are a gift and a heritage, so we should appreciate them and guard them carefully. They are like fruit, so we should lovingly cultivate them so that they can grow up to their full potential. In future, they can be arrows for fighting the Lord’s battles (vv. 4-5), so we should keep them polished, sharp and aimed in the right direction. Let us concentrate our efforts in building a home, not just a house, and building for the future, not just for the present!