Pastor Edward Brouwer 1-28-2018 “He Builds, Watches and Defends” Psalm 127
He Builds, Watches, Blesses and Defends
According to rabbinic tradition, Solomon wrote the Book of Ecclesiastes. We all know how that book starts: vanity of vanities ALL is vanity. Empty, fleeting, and vain. The author of Psalm 127 takes a similar stance—without God everything we do is empty, fleeting and useless. This psalm is the only one attributed to Solomon, and he should know a thing or two about building—whether he was building a house or a city or a nation. Solomon was on a search for meaning. He applied himself to become the most learned and wise man. He sought pleasure and comfort in amusements. He embarked on building programs trying to enjoy the fruits of his labor. He acquired wealth and material possessions. He comes to this conclusion: Fear God and obey Him because we all meet our Maker. In this psalm Solomon says essentially that we are all building, protecting, seeking blessing and defending ourselves but ultimately it’s all empty fleeting and vain unless God is at the center of it, and we entrust ourselves to His building, protecting, blessing and defending.
Read Psalm 127
Vanity, as in something that has no enduring value, is a theme of this Psalm. Building houses, watching over cities, having families, defending my life and my legacy: it’s all for nothing unless God is at the start, middle and end of it.
An example of biblical proportions of how NOT to build, is the Tower of Babel. The descendants of Noah did not want to fill the earth and steward it—they liked their spot and wanted to stick together. In their effort to build a name for themselves, they built an edifice to human accomplishment. And God said “I ain’t do it!” I’m not going to quietly watch you make humanism your central defining reality. Okay you say, that was a bunch of people who wanted to honor themselves and not God. That’s not me—I do want to build my house on the foundation of God.
The first step is heeding the words of Jesus to “build your house on the solid ground”. Building requires thought and action.
Without a plan to guide you in building, you’re in trouble. Jesus talked about planning and considering the cost of following him. In Luke 14:28 He says “who of you wanting to build a tower does not first sit down and determine whether he has the resources to finish it? Otherwise if he lays a foundation and can’t complete it people will ridicule him!” First consider and then act. The psalmist is saying to us today, if you want to “build your house” and God is not at the center of it, then ultimately you will fail! The first creation of your home must be in a careful and intentional invitation to God that He be at the center of everything. Jesus summarized this approach when he said Seek first the kingdom and it’s righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Ask and it shall be given unto you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened unto you.
Partner with God—the psalmist says unless the Lord builds the house, unless the Lord watches over the city: this means that God is building and watching, and when we let Him be the start of everything, then as we partner with Him, what we build will have lasting value. Jesus is saying that we start by asking—praying to god to give us wisdom and direction. We may have an idea about doing something—say starting a business or some adventure or project. Ask God first. Then seek wisdom—from the Word and from people you trust, from people in authority in your life—your spouse, your parents, your church family. Knock on the door of opportunity. God calls us to active engagement in His plans for us and we must knock on that door and walk through it. I like to say “Yes God feeds the birds of the air, but he doesn’t throw their food in the nest!” God has His part and we have our part.
When are we forgetting God? One sure sign is anxiety. When we’re thick in the weeds and can’t see our way out we become fearful. And we double down on our insecurity by acting out in fearful ways. There’s a story of a believer who had a software company and had a very significant part of his business tied up in a contract for a bank. But there was a lot of employee frustration at the bank with the new software. The old CEO (with whom the company had made the contract) left. When the owner met with the new CEO it became clear that he wanted out of the contract. The believer could have pressed his case with the binding contract (and his business success depended on it) but said “I am here to serve you, I will rip up the existing contract and if you ever need our services we would love to serve you in the future”. Several months later the CEO approached this business owner and said “we’re ready and not just for this location but all our locations in State”.
When we try to do things in our own energy we fail. Jesus said “Apart from me you can do nothing—stay connected to the Vine”. Staying connected to Jesus means we must rest in him.
The psalmist writes “in vain do you rise up early and eat the bread of your anxious labor—for the Lord gives to His beloved ones while they sleep” Here’s a curious thing about the Hebrew day. It started at sundown. You start your day with washing up, sitting down to a meal and then going to bed. That’s upside down. We work and then we rest but in God’s economy he tells us to REST and then work. That is the gospel way: God works and then invites us into His work.
The psalmist goes on to say that in building a house God gives children—blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them. The reality of life is that children are a gift from the Lord—whether we acknowledge that or not. The creation mandate is to be fruitful and multiply, we call that Common Grace—and it applies to everyone—believer or unbeliever. The rain falls on the just AND the unjust because God made it so. And we’ve all known people who have not had children who would have made wonderful parents and others who frankly should never have become parents at all. Maybe the writer of this psalm is one of them! After all he had 300 wives and 700 concubines. Let’s face it Solomon must have fathered more children than he could possibly have been a true and loving father to. And the same could be said about Solomon’s father David who had many wives and the Bible said he indulged his children and let them do their own thing to their detriment.
A beautiful story in 2 Samuel 7 illustrates the importance of us not trying to build our own houses or names but to allow God to do that. David has received God’s blessing in Jerusalem. He has victory over his enemies, he’s built a beautiful palace and then he has it in his heart to build a temple for God. He summons Nathan and Nathan the Prophet says ‘sure go ahead”. But the next day Nathan comes with a word from the Lord. Essentially it is: David I know you want me to build a house for me but just to be clear I never asked for this—this is your idea. And I can’t have you do this. But here is what I will do. I will build a house for you! I will build a lasting name for you! From the HOUSE if David will come a king who will reign forever. David you will have a son, but this son will be MY Son. And this Son will be the Savior and Redeemer of the world.
Even before we knew we needed a savior God had a plan to rescue us and give His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life! Because, while our lives our fleeting here, we know that this is all a foretaste of glory. That if God is the central defining reality of our life here and now then He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it Him! My brothers and sisters let God work and watch and bless and defend you. The good news is that in Christ He has. Rest in Him!