Psalms Through the Summer #5:
A Psalms for Fathers - Psalms 127
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Introduction: Two Different Dads
Father number 1. A Sunday School teacher watched as one little boy in his primary class came in late. He asked, “Bobby why are you so late coming to church this morning.” The little boy said, “Well sir, I wanted to go fishing today and I had all my stuff ready, but then my Dad told me I better go ahead and get to church.” The teacher sensing an opportunity for a lesson about the importance of attending church asked Bobby. “What exactly did your good father tell you this morning?” “He told me, Son go on to church, cause there ain’t enough bait for the both of us.”
Father number 2. A father was trying to teach his 5-year-old daughter the rudiments of baseball but she was not the most athletic kid on the block. After trying several times to catch a ball and only succeeding in dropping it and in getting hit in the head by the tossed ball, the dad decided to switch to hitting the ball. He showed his little girl how to hold the bat on her shoulder, then tossing the ball in the air with his other hand, then swing the bat and hit the ball. He then handed the ball and bat to his daughter, “Now you try just like I showed you.” The little girl eagerly tossed the ball into the air and took a hard swing and missed. “Try it again, sweetheart.” And she did, over and over and over not one time coming any where close to hitting the ball. Finally, after about 20 swings the little girl looked at her dad with frustration and disappointment. The Dad though was smiling and beaming as though his daughter was a female Babe Ruth. The dad placed his hands on his little girl’s shoulders, looked into her eyes and proudly said, “Princess, I think you are going to be one really great pitcher.”
We are going to try and encourage every Dad and Granddad here this morning to be the 2nd kind of Dad, encouraging, hopeful and always believing and finding the best in your child. We going to use Psalm 127 to help our Dads in the all important calling for being a father.
We have talked about the book of Psalms being a series of collections of Psalms grouped together by subject, authors, or purpose. Here starting at Psalm 120 is a new collection that extends through Psalms 134. Each lyric in this group is designated by a term variously translated “A Song of Degrees” (AV), “A Song of Ascents” (ASV), and “A Pilgrim Song.” It is thought that this is a collection of Psalms that arose as a hymnbook for pilgrims coming up to the Temple for the great feasts. – Wycliffe Commentary
Our Psalms 127 for Father’s this morning is in this collection and it is there for a reason. For it teaches a central truth and would be a reminder of that truth to the pilgrims as they made their way into Jerusalem, the city of God. That truth is central to us as well and it is expressed in the very first three words of the Psalms, “Except the Lord” As the Psalms tells us except the lord builds the house, except the Lord keeps the city, except the Lord watches our sleep, except the Lord blesses the family then all these things, indeed all of life is in vain.
Without The Lord, A Life Worth Nothing – Psalm 127:1-2
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
Except The Lord…
The Psalmist here is stating a single truth but using the repetition of Hebrew poetry to drive that point home. It is a simple but vital truth, Without the Lord anything and everything you do, in the end is worth nothing.”
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it. The idea of house here is much bigger than just a building. House has the idea of a home, but also your family name, your reputation, your standing in a community, your power through your family and all those who would be protected and blessed by being in or even close to your family. Your house is the sum value of everything you try to accomplish with your life.
And here God’s word says, “Unless the Lord is the one who is the builder of your life, then all you achieve is nothing but dust, ashes, empty noise. Your life does not amount to anything when it is tallied and reckoned at the end. It is wasted, all your effort was in vain.”
Next, we are told, “except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.” This is the next step up in society, from individual families that need God to build them then to societies that need God to keep them safe. The Lord must guard and keep culture and society.
Its not hard to see a parallel in our own society and cities today is it? Our mayors, city councils, congress, presidents have tried to build a new world, a new society and they have purposely pushed God outside the walls. And can’t we see the terrible results? I’m not talking about high prices of gas and groceries, I’m talking about the high price that is being paid in human beings, in pain, in sorrow, in hopelessness, in utter anarchy. In the life from Hell itself that there is no gender, or that it is okay for men and women to forsake natural love and replace it with a lust that destroys lives and families.
We don’t want God keeping our culture and watchmen are useless and today even dangerous. It is Psalm 127 tells us again and again, vain.
Vain; The Hebrew word שָׁוְא šâwe’; or שַׁו shav; it means emptiness, vanity, falsehood, nothingness, lying, and worthlessness.
Except the Lord builds, except the Lord keeps…
Do your remember Jesus’ parable of the foolish rich man in Luke 12:16-21? “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Now look at vs 2.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Without the Lord then all you do getting up early, staying up late, worrying, fretting planning and stressing those things are also worthless. They will get you nothing. If you really want to make your efforts count, fathers, mothers, grandparents then work under God’s direction because He gives his beloved real sleep. The sleep that comes when you’ve done a good day’s, or a good life’s work and know that what you did counted, it made a difference for you family, for your child, for your house, for all those around you.
The sleep of the Lord is the sweetest, deepest and most refreshing but it is only ours if we fully trust and follow Him.
The Yoke of The Lord
Jesus gave this invitation in Matthew 11:28-30, listen closely it is the same truth we are hearing in Psalms 127, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
That is the Son of God inviting us to take on His yoke, to join Him in the work he has called us to. Part of that work, one of the most important parts of his calling, is the work you do as a parent, as a father. If you want your parenthood to count, to be worth something, even into eternity itself, then take on the yoke, join in the work and then you will have that blessed rest that comes at the end of a day and at the end of a life. That rest that only comes to the beloved of God.
Transition: Now let’s go to the contrast to these first 3 verses. Instead of a worthless life, we see a Wonderful life.
With The Lord, A Life Worthwhile – Psalm 127:3-5
Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
The Lord’s Blessings
What makes a wonderful life? What is God’s great blessing to a family? Psalms 127 says, children are God’s gift and blessing.
I know our society today sees children as a burden. Yes I’m talking about abortion and doing all that can be done to not have children. But I’m also talking about God’s people who would never have an abortion but still view children as a burden, when God’s word says they are a blessing.
Because the Lord did not keep our country, our culture one of the dangerous lies that has become accepted as truth today is that children cost us and that families can’t afford t to have them anymore. And yet right in front of us we’ve read God’s word. Children are a heritage from God. And yet in our world today we view them as a curse. No wonder they are turning out as killers, addicts and derelicts.
That world heritage in Hebrew נַחֲלָה naḥălâ, and it means something inherited, an heirloom, a precious, prized possession. We need to quit seeing the family the way the world sees it and begin to see it through the perspective of heaven. Children are God’s gift to us and to this world. If we have our life under his direction and our families under His care, then God will provide. It will not be a burden it will be one of the Lord greatest blessings.
Jesus’s Value of Children
Three times in the Gospels we read the story of Jesus and the little children. When the apostles thought their master was too busy or too tired to have time for little ones, Jesus responded with these words. Listen and remember this is the creator of the universe speaking.
Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
If you want to heaven in your life, if you want heaven in your family than Jesus said you’ll find it in the faces of your children. Of such are the kingdom of heaven.”
God’s Gifts To Fathers
Its Father’s day and here in these last verses of Psalm 127, we see God’s gifts to you fathers, they are your precious children. The Bible says they are His blessings, they are sweet fruit and His rich reward. Then, it says, in vss. 4-5 they are, “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
Fathers, God is speaking to you now in these verses. The word, heritage speaks of God’s blessing your marriage, fruit speaks of the fulfillment of why God created marriage, to replenish the earth and arrows speak of the future and the security of your family.
Listen again, “Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”
I can’t read this verse without remembering a preachers’ conference I was at in Big Spring, Texas. There was a missionary there who had 14 or 15 children. He was a big advocate for large, large, large families. He even had a tract that show mathematically how Baptists could take over the United states if we all had about 10 kids each. He preached that day and used Psalm 127 as his text. The preacher who followed him only had one child, it was all God had blessed their family with. He stood in the pulpit and said, “Well I the Lord only gave us one child.” Then he looked at the missionary, smiled and said, “I guess my quiver is just not as big as yours.”
You can imagine the reaction; I personally fell on the floor I was laughing so hard.
What this scriptural promise is saying is this, Fathers, there is power in your family, there is safety, there is hope for the future no matter what enemies this world or Satan send against you. You will look the enemy in the eye as they stand outside the gate and know you will overcome them because God has blessed you, rewarded you and given you arrows in your hand and they make you a mighty man.
Conclusion: Final Word For Fathers
Fathers this is your day. I hope you fully enjoy it with your family, but as you enjoy this day dedicated to you, never forget “Except the Lord…”
If your life, your family, your house is going count, if it is to be worth something, then the Lord must build it, the Lord must keep it and the Lord must give the blessings. When you see your children, no matter how many you have in your quiver, see them as one of the greatest blessing God can give you in this life, because they truly are. Then seek His guidance and protection every single day to be the father, He created and called you to be.
A Father’s Prayer
Years ago now, when I was a young father and pastor, one night after I had put all my children in bed, I was overwhelmed by a feeling that I was not up to the task of being the father I needed to be. That I could not protect them from the wickedness and evil of this world. I sat at the foot of the bed of my little daughter and began to pray that the Lord supply what I so desperately lacked. Later I wrote a prayer based on that experience. I would like to share it with you as we finish today.
Dear Lord, as I sit beside the bed of my child and watch their sleep, I am overcome by the blessing you have given to me. How can something this precious be placed in my care? How can this beautiful creation look at me with eyes so full of admiration and wonder? How can I live up to the task of not losing that innocent beauty to a world that seeks to destroy it?
Lord, the time I have is so limited and cluttered with demands and deadlines. Yet when the deadlines pass, I can't remember why they were so critical. While at my feet a child looks up and asks me to play ball or be their horsy, look at their latest crayon masterpiece or just hold them in my lap. Their Daddy is the most important thing in the world to them. When will I realize that they must be the most important thing in all the world to me?
Lord, I know that someday they will walk away, no longer a child but a young man, a young woman. I understand I must release them either to You or to this world. Will I have been the father you wanted me to be? Will that child see in me the loving hand, the words of wisdom, the inexhaustible love of you, their Heavenly Father? Help me to make the time to show my children Your love for them through me. Oh, my God if only one task I accomplish before my life is over, please let it be that my children will know You through me. I ask this in the name of your own Son. Amen - DKM 1993