Psalm 127:1-2 ESV
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
When I was a child, my family moved from Richmond to Hanover County, where my dad was building a house. I say that we moved to the place where he was building the house rather than the place where he built the house because we moved in while it was still under construction. We had a roof over our heads and exterior walls and wiring and water, and some of the rooms had sheetrock—but not all. It was definitely a work in progress. Then my dad broke his neck in a car accident. While of course we praised God that he was alive, and prayed for his healing, we also had other concerns. We were new to the area and didn’t know anybody, so human help was scarce. The reason he built the house himself was because money was tight, so hiring help was out of the question. When he got out of the hospital, he wore a metal neck brace—clearly not suitable for doing construction work. We seriously wondered how the house was going to be finished.
Then one night there was a knock at the door. Outside, a group of deacons from the local church stood with hammers in their hands and tool belts around their waists. Through the grapevine they had heard about the new family and their recent troubles, and they had come to help. We stepped aside as they swarmed our home. With ringing hammers they put up sheetrock, and worked long into the night. The help didn’t stop when the night was over. That church thought that they were taking our house on as a project. When they knocked on the door that evening, they had no idea that what they were taking our family on as a project as well. The house was just the beginning. By the time they were done, they had not only helped build a house, but they built a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, and two ministers. Yes, God knows what He’s doing when He builds a house. And even, when He breaks a neck.
When King Solomon wrote Psalm 127, he was in the middle of a building project. His father David had provided all the materials and money necessary for the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem. It was Solomon’s job to complete the task and see the work done. Solomon had to realize that even though he employed the very best workers, it was really the Lord who built the house.
Not only was the king occupied with the building of the Temple, but he had to ensure the security of his borders as he invested his time in the construction. David had secured some measure of peace during Solomon’s childhood, so there were not quite so many enemies to fight—but still, the peace had to be kept. As he thought about the watchmen on the walls, he recalled with confidence that while human eyes kept watch, it was really God who protected the people.
The king must have been greatly encouraged when he remembered that God was ultimately responsible for the outcome of every project he undertook. This helped him to rest easy. This helped him to sleep at night. This helps them to feel secure. He knew that he had to put in hard work, but he didn’t have to let stress wear him to a frazzle—because God gives sleep to His beloved. God does the work and God gives rest. Our projects are important to God because we’re important to God. God will take care of His own.
Each of us is building a house. Yours may be different from mine. Some of them are constructed out of brick and stone and wood. Others are made of bandaged knees, kisses on the head, and lullabies. Still others are built in board rooms, baseball fields, classrooms, factories, and churches. God has put every project of our lives under our care. He has placed the lives and the well-being of God's people under our supervision. That would be an overwhelming thought if we believed that everything had to be accomplished by our own power.
However, it is the Lord who builds the house. It is the Lord who guards our lives. Our job is to make every effort to cooperate with what God is doing. Our job is to do our best with what God has given us. Admiral D. G. Farragut said, "God alone decides the contest, but we must put our shoulders to the wheel." If God has called us to do the work, He will provide us the strength to do it. And if we find that we don’t have the strength, God will provide the help to get it done. When, as Solomon, God gives you a task to complete you need to do your best to be faithful to his call. But then you must trust Him and remember that ultimately it is God who builds the house.