Help From Outside Yourself
Unless the Lord builds the house,They labor in vain who build it;Unless the Lord guards the city,The watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise early,To retire late,To eat the bread of anxious labors—For He gives [blessings] to His beloved even in his sleep. Behold, children are a heritage and gift from the Lord,The fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed [happy and fortunate] is the man whose quiver is filled with them;They will not be ashamedWhen they speak with their enemies [in gatherings] at the [city] gate.
Bart Starr was a great quarterback for the pro football champion Green Bay Packers. When his son, Bart, Jr. brought home schoolwork which was well done or a report card with good grades, Bart Starr would tape a dime to the corner as a reward and write next to it, “Good work….I believe in you!”
Then the day came when Bart Starr had a horrible game against a leading opponent. It was one of his all-time worst performances. When he got home from the game that night, he found a note from Bart, Jr. with a dime taped to the corner. It simply read, “Dad, I believe in you.”
In this eighth of fifteen psalms of ascent we are midway on the climb up to Jerusalem. Your geographical location today may be different from the Psalmist’s; but if you have been journeying upward for some time out of a deep personal valley, you may just want to lie down and quit. You’ve gone too far to turn around and go back, but you don’t think you have the stamina to make it the rest of the way. You won’t survive unless help comes from outside yourself.
Who is going to put a note on your heart that says, “I believe in you”?
Three occupations are described in the opening verses of Psalm 127: the builder, the watchman, and the laborer. These describe us.
Through great effort and skill we strive to build a life of value. We remain alert to the dangers lurking in the dark and the distance with keen sensitivity. Through long hours of hard, diligent labor, we work hard to make a living. But after all this, will we succeed? When we’re halfway up the trail, we honestly may not know. We ask ourselves whether there will ever be a time when we feel secure and able to sleep a good nights rest.
Like the person who sold his home only to see it torn down for another one to be built, sometimes in life what we wanted to build hasn’t come to pass. Have we reconciled ourselves to that? Perhaps what we have tried to build has been demolished by events we had no control over, but the most important thing is that we are still here even though what we attempted to create hasn’t survived. Maybe we feel like a vacant lot and are having trouble envisioning what God desires to build in us.
Psalm 127 tells us three important truths about the care of God:
First, He builds our lives.
Second, He watches over us.
Third, He provides for us.
These first two verses are to encourage us to avoid thinking and acting as though everything depends upon us. It doesn’t for the Lord Himself is helping us!
We can still feel isolated and alone even when we know that the Lord loves us. This fact was known by God when He said of Adam that loneliness was not good. The pilgrims on the journey to Jerusalem traveled together. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus tells what happens to those who attempt the journey alone. That man was beaten, robbed, and left for dead by the robbers. The Bible gives us a glimpse of this family event and group travel as we read of Jesus and his family going to Jerusalem when He was twelve.(Luke 2: 41-45). This journey provided an opportunity for a father to reflect on his blessings of his children as they ran and played around him on the journey.
You might be among those who are childless or perhaps have children who are distanced from you. Instead of “arrows” of blessing,-weapons against discouragements of the outside world-they may have become more like daggers aimed against your soul. If that the case, lift you eyes from the word “sons” or “children” and substitute the word “friend” or “family.”
We are not meant to try to live the Christian life alone. We need the encouragement, support, and companionship of others. Just as Bart Star’s son said, “I believe in you” family and friends are “arrows” that help us defeat difficulties and discouragement. Therefore the more “arrows” the better.
Dr. John Thompson