“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1 NKJV).
While traveling through the middle hills of Nepal six months after the great earthquake of 2015 the incredible amount of damage done was still evident. Fresh scars from landslides, piles of rubble, and damaged and collapsed buildings are everywhere.
It is a strange feeling to see a home one has slept in within only a few months, now with collapsed walls and roof. To worship in a church building with holes in the ceiling. To know that other homes, church buildings, and even villages which one has visited in the past simply no longer exist.
We are constantly reminded of the brevity and uncertainty of life and of the frailty of humankind. Nothing material is permanent. All will pass away. Yet it is still difficult for us to grasp this basic fact intellectually or emotionally.
Psalm 127 is one of two psalms attributed to King Solomon (the other is Psalm 72). Though his opening statement is generic in nature and may be applied to any building or even other human endeavors, it is worthy of note that Solomon was the builder of the first Temple to be recognized as the House of the Lord (1 Kings 6:1ff).
The temptation to claim honor and glory as the builder of such a magnificent and worthy structure must have been almost overwhelming to a young king just coming into the might of his reign. To be the one chosen by God to do what his father David had envisioned was certainly a great honor.
One wonders if Solomon is not reminding himself in this psalm who the true builder of the Temple must be. It was not for the king to claim the glory. It was not for him to receive praise. All things belong to God.
Do we not sometimes need the same reminder? We so easily take credit for accomplishments, whether material or spiritual. Some build businesses, some schools, some benevolent organizations, and some congregations or religious organizations. Some take pride in their education, others in their families or physical abilities. There is always the temptation to proclaim, “Look what I have done.”
The great king knew the truth. Only that which is supported by God will last. We can do nothing without his help and consent. If it is not his, it is nothing.
“It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so He gives His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2). All of our hard work is useless without trust in God. But if we depend upon him we can rest easily, without worry, secure in his care.