Psalm 127-130 discuss the importance of building a home with the Lord as the foundation. It reminds readers that dedicating one's heart to God and living a life that brings glory to Him is essential for true fulfillment and happiness. The psalm also speaks to the joy and blessing of children, stating that they are a gift from God and a reward for those who have them. However, it also acknowledges that not everyone will have children and that the Lord's plans are not always clear. Psalm 128 emphasizes the importance of fearing the Lord and living a life that follows His ways, as this leads to happiness and blessings. Psalm 129 speaks of the Lord's faithfulness and protection, even in times of difficulty and oppression. Finally, Psalm 130 encourages readers to trust in the Lord and turn to Him in times of trouble, as He is the source of forgiveness and salvation.
Wisdom for Building House and Home
As we set sail into Psalm 127, we could title this great hymn something like “Wisdom for Building House and Home.” In this psalm we find some rather well-known verses, including verse 1: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.”
The word for “vain” here means “empty,” or “meaningless.” There are a lot of people building lives that are meaningless because their lives have nothing to do with the Lord.
In the clearest language possible, we are reminded here that our heart needs to be dedicated to God’s glory. We might build something on this earth that’s quite impressive, but unless the Lord is leading us and we are giving Him the glory, our efforts will do nothing but leave us empty inside.
The other well-known verses in Psalm 127 are verses 3-5:
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them.
Now this is not a promise that God will fill everybody’s quiver. I know a lot of faithful believers who long to have children but can’t— and the reason is known only to God.
But if you have children or hope to one day, you might be worried that this isn’t a good time to bring children into the world. After all, we live in a messed-up, confused, even dangerous world today.
Terrorism is rising, and crime and violence are in the news every day. Sinful lifestyles and choices are not only permitted but applauded and promoted; and if you express your disagreement with them, you might even be punished. Do you really want to bring children into this kind of world?
I like what one writer said about the parents of Elijah. Suppose they reasoned that the world was too sinful to bring a child into it. The Bible tells us that the king at the time was one of the most wicked kings to reign in Israel. But look at what Elijah grew up to do for his nation, Israel. Or suppose the parents of Moses decided that it would be better to stop having children. Pharaoh was on the throne, and he had just made a national law that Hebrew baby boys were to be thrown to the crocodiles in the Nile River. I can’t think of a worse time to have a baby.
I agree with one author who wrote on this text many years ago:
When God sees that in this poor old world a wrong needs righting or a truth needs preaching, or a benefit [to mankind] needs inventing—He sends a baby into the world to do it.
Listen, you can’t imagine a worse time in human history for a baby boy to be born than when God sent His Son to be born of a virgin named Mary. Her husband Joseph was something of a first-century migrant worker, taking whatever masonry and carpentry jobs he could find.
The Roman Empire was decaying, and the emperors were immoral and wicked men. The Roman-appointed ruler in Palestine, Herod the Great, was so self-obsessed that he instructed his army to kill hundreds of Jewish people on the day he died so there would be weeping in Jerusalem. Soon after the wise men announced to him that a rival king had been born, he sent his soldiers to the region around Bethlehem with orders to slaughter every baby boy under the age of two.
What kind of world was this? It was as corrupt and immoral and wicked as our world might be today.
But aren’t you glad a baby was born? God’s Son came into this world because this world—back then and to this day—needs a Savior.
In Psalm 128, the author adds to this theme of trusting the Lord for what He decides to do in your life and your home as you walk with Him. He writes in verse 1, “Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in his ways!”
The word “blessed” here means “happy”—happy is everyone who fears the Lord. Fear does not mean to be afraid; it means to be in awe of. I like to think of it as “trembling awe.” Happy is everyone who lives in great respect of God.
Now the world will tell you that happiness depends on what happens to you. So, if bad things happen—if difficulties arise—you are not going to be happy. Well, that is true to some extent. The Bible does not tell you to put on a fake smile.
But the idea of happiness in the Bible has more to do with satisfaction than success. The person who is in awe of God will be satisfied with God.
That’s why I sign many of my personal letters with the words, “Satisfied in Christ.” It reminds me that I should be—I need to be—satisfied with Him and in Him. So, instead of focusing on happenings, I focus on Him; and at the end of the day, I am truly satisfied.
Psalm 129 focuses on the grace of God. It was written to be sung as the Israelites traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate one of their festival seasons and was designed to be sung responsively.
The first verse might have been sung by a priest: “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth.” No doubt this is a reference to Israel suffering from their days in Egypt as a young nation.
Then, in response, all the people would sing with great enthusiasm: “The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked” (verse 4).
Cutting the cords is a picture of oxen being released from the plow, ending their hard labor in the field. The Lord’s discipline over His people was tempered by His love. He didn’t let them suffer as slaves forever, working out in the fields of Egypt under wicked taskmasters. He finally cut their cords and set them free.
Finally in our Wisdom Journey, we sail into Psalm 130, where we find a beautiful expression of God’s forgiveness and love. The psalmist writes here of the people confessing their sins as they walk up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast of Passover or Tabernacles.
He says here in verse 3, “If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” In other words, who can stand before the Lord with the record you and I have in sinning? Think how easy it is to commit just five sins a day—just five selfish thoughts, unkind words, covetous ideas, self-centered responses—just five. I can do that before lunch most days.
Well, if you committed only five sins a day, that’s nearly 2,000 a year; you would need your fingers and all your toes to keep count. The truth is, you and I have never once gotten on our knees and confessed every single sin we have committed in even one day. We can’t keep track.
The psalmist says here, “If the Lord should mark iniquities—that is, if the Lord kept track, so to speak—what chance would we have to stand in His presence?” The answer is that none of us would have a chance. We wouldn’t have a prayer—except one: “Lord, forgive me for all my sins against You today.”
Then the psalmist goes on to write these encouraging words in verse 4: “But with you [Lord] there is forgiveness.” If that makes you want to let out a sigh of relief, go ahead. I think the palmist expected that kind of response.
He writes in verse 7, “For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.” Praise God for that.
 John Phillips, Exploring the Psalms: Volume Two (Loizeaux Brothers, 1988), 488.