PSALM 127*

The Need of God’s Blessing

1A song of ascents. Of Solomon.


Unless the LORD build the house,

they labor in vain who build.

Unless the LORD guard the city,

in vain does the guard keep watch.

2It is vain for you to rise early

and put off your rest at night,

To eat bread earned by hard toil—

all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.a


3Certainly sons are a gift from the LORD,

the fruit of the womb, a reward.b

4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

are the sons born in one’s youth.

5Blessed is the man who has filled his quiver with them.

He will never be shamed

for he will destroy his foes at the gate.*

* [Psalm 127] The Psalm puts together two proverbs (Ps 127:12, 35) on God establishing “houses” or families. The prosperity of human groups is not the work of human beings but the gift of God.

* [127:5] At the gate: the reference is not to enemies besieging the walls of a city but to adversaries in litigation. Law courts functioned in the open area near the main city gate. The more adult sons a man had, the more forceful he would appear in disputes, cf. Prv 31:23.

a. [127:2] Eccl 2:24.

b. [127:3] Ps 115:14; 128:3; Dt 28:11; Prv 17:6.

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