Unless the Lord builds the house…
Psalm 127 points out three of the most ordinary of human activities—building, security, and raising a family. These issues are raised in order to ask whose purpose they serve and to whom we owe them. This Psalm bears marks of wisdom literature and is credited to Solomon. It is possible that the term “his beloved” (vs. 2) was Solomon’s way to embed his signature upon the psalm. Jedidiah or “his beloved” was the special name God gave to Solomon (2 Samuel 12:25). Later Solomon would build the Lord a “house.” However, Solomon’s building—much like his marriages and eventually his kingdom—would end in ruin (1 Kings 9-11).
Though the two sections of the psalm seem at first reading to be disconnected, they actually work together well. Both parts proclaim that only that which is from God is truly strong and purposeful. Also, it is common in the Old Testament for “house” to be used in the dual sense of a structure and a family. Both senses of house tie the psalm together with the former meaning used in the first half and the latter meaning being used in the second half.
The works of creating and preserving are basic to human purpose. And yet these basic activities are in vain if not for the Lord. Certainly, builders will go on building, but only that which is from and for the Lord has any lasting purpose. That which man does for himself, for his own aggrandizement will ultimately lead nowhere.
A life marked by God’s purpose is typically not sensational. God’s good gifts in this life, while good beyond measure, are also quite ordinary: productivity, safety, children, a continuing legacy, etc. The psalm does not mention material wealth or position. Children who honor their parents are real wealth. “And it is not untypical of God’s gifts that they first are liabilities, or at least responsibilities, before they become obvious assets. The greater their promise, the more likely that these sons will be a handful before they are a quiverful” (Kidner, 442).