It is either the Lord or vanity
Psalm 127 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
A Song of Ascents, of Solomon.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.
children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
Yesterday we looked at the exhortation and the benefits of doing all things as unto the Lord. We saw that Stephen, who was selected to serve by waiting on tables, was working and performing great signs and wonders among the people. Jesus both exhorts us saying that he who is faithful in little things will be faithful in bigger things and He also promises to reward those who have been faithful in a few things with even more. So, there is a natural and spiritual principle to encourage us to do what we do, all that we do, even the little and seemingly insignificant things, as unto the Lord. In today’s text the psalmist says: Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. Here then the psalmist is declaring that in regards to the significant things we do, it is a waste of our time and energy, meaningless, to do it without the Lord. God is omniscient, all seeing. Who better to watch over and protect us? God is omnipotent, all powerful. Who better to trust to do all that we need to do? Jesus Himself said: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19) If Jesus Himself, the Son of God, God in flesh, only did what the Father was doing, how could we believe that we could accomplish anything of value or significance on our own? That the psalmist says that what we do without God is vanity; is that it is of self. It is not only dependant on our own strength or ability, but it is rooted in self; self centered desire, selfishness or pride. We have been given the greatest possible way to do and accomplish all that we need and want to do. It is God’s way. Philippians 4:13 says: I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Through Christ we have been given the very indwelling Holy Spirit of God. We have the Spirit of the omniscient, omnipotent God living in us. Why would we choose to do anything on our own? Do we vainly think we can do better than God? Romans 8:11 says: If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Acts 17:28 says: In Him we live and move and exist. Romans 8:31 says: If God is for us, who is against us? If all that is true, why would we choose to do anything on our own, apart from Him? Is it not as the psalmist says; vanity?
Solomon, the writer of today’s Psalm, the man to whom the greatest wisdom of any man was attributed, continues in today’s text, with a declaration that is more of an indictment on today’s society and culture than it is just an exhortation. He says: Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate. In our society and culture, children are unfortunately often seen as a burden not a blessing. They are viewed often as a penalty, not a gift. Because of the vanity of this generation, the fruit of the womb is seen as something which can be discarded as an inconvenience rather than a reward. In John 10:10 Jesus says: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Our society has believed and perpetuated the lie of the thief. It has called abortion, the discarding of the reward of the fruit of the womb, the murdering of an unborn child, a choice. In John 8:44 Jesus says: “…the devil... He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” To call the discarding of the gift of God, the reward of the fruit of the womb, simply a choice is to believe a lie. It is perhaps the ultimate vanity of acting without God, discarding or destroying what He created. The psalmist says that the one who sees children as a gift and a reward will not be ashamed. Sadly, those who believe the lie of the thief, the devil, those who believe that it is simply a choice, even a right, do feel shame and guilt. They too become victims of the vanity of this culture.
Our children, both the unborn and all those who we have been blessed and privileged to raise and care for, are truly a gift from God. They are fruit. Many people today view this generation with contempt saying they are a lost, lazy, hopeless and helpless generation. We need to understand, accept and own the truth that they are only the fruit of the generation and generations before them. In Matthew 7:17-20 Jesus says: “Every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” If this generation is lost and hopeless the indictment, the previous generations, the responsibility lies with them, with us. This generation is merely the fruit of what has been sown and grown. We have the Spirit of God available to dwell in us, to guide us and lead us in all that we do. What could possibly be more important than raising and nurturing our children, God’s gift to us and the fruit of our future? Galatians 5:18-26 says: But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. If we would desire a generation with hope, may we nurture them with the Spirit of God, with: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; and not discard them in our own vanity.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; may I never do what I do in vanity; without You. May I choose to do all things through Christ and Your indwelling Holy Spirit. May I never believe or promote the lies of the thief. May I nurture the fruit and the gifts You have blessed and rewarded, privileged me to care for, by Your Spirit. Amen.