Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 127 begins:
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guards keep watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives his beloved sleep (vv. 1-2).
The poet has quickly disposed of the myths of the self-made man, the lone ranger, and the workaholic. Success is not the result of human effort alone; success comes when God and people work cooperatively.
The Taliban recently returned to power in Afghanistan, quickly filling the vacuum left by departing Americans. The United States spent twenty years and billions of dollars building and supplying the Afghan government, Afghan infrastructure, the Afghan army, the house of Afghanistan. But it all imploded in one week in August. As the poet says, unless the Lord builds the house, unless the Lord guards the city, the army and the politicians labor in vain.
The second half of the psalm talks about family:
Children are a heritage from the Lord . . .
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
He will not be put to shame
when he contends with his enemies in the gate.
In an ancient, patriarchal, agricultural society, it was good to have sons to work the fields, protect the family, and defend the city from enemies at the gates. The poet gives God credit for building the family: children are indeed a heritage from the Lord.
Our father, how often we append a prayer to our plans, asking you to bless them. But the poet sees a more cooperative process, in which we build the house when you are building, or we guard the city you are guarding, or we leave our work undone when you invite us to rest. Give us, we pray, that inner sense of how to cooperate in the work you are doing.
How different was the poet’s life from ours. We are less patriarchal, less agricultural, more technological. No walled cities. No enemies gathering at city gates. Instead, the threats to our religion and way of life are corrupt ideologies, lying conspiracy theories, and violent fundamentalist movements in Islam and Christianity. The lure of hedonism calls our sons and daughters away from the godly heritage we have tried to give them. Our children are a heritage from you, our city and country a gift from you. Guard our heritage as we try to preserve what is good and resist what is evil.
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.
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