Unless The Lord Builds The House – Psalm 127 (17 Sep 2017)

The Deacons’ Board was discussing the issue of the cradle room becoming too crowded. Indeed the church has been blessed with quite a number of new-borns. We rejoice together with their parents (and grandparents!). With the “influx” of new babies, we now have the happy problem of trying to ensure that the cradle room is big and comfortable enough. I would like to share some thoughts on Psalm 127 with all parents (and parents-to-be), especially those who have young children.

1Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

This is a very familiar verse. We often associate “building the house” here to our work or ministry. For parents, to “build the house” can also mean the building of our own family unit. If the Lord is not at the front and centre of our family, and not the foundation and the one building, all that we do is in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. 

The two things a new parent feels when a baby is born are happiness, and a sense of responsibility. Suddenly there is another mouth to feed! Any grand personal plans will now have to be parked aside as caring and providing for the family becomes the top priority. Consequently, a lot of parents push themselves at work, seeking to excel in their careers so as to provide the best for their children. The Psalmist describes these “anxious toil” as being done “in vain”, if the Lord is not at the forefront of it.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Children are described here as a “reward” and a “heritage”. I am sure new parents agree, perhaps until the child turns into the proverbial “terrible two”! It is interesting that the Bible uses the word “heritage” to describe our children. A heritage, according to the dictionary, is the traditions or achievements, that are part of the history of a group. In other words, a heritage is ours, no one else can claim ownership and no one else can produce it. It is unique and special, just like our children!

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.

The Psalmist used “arrows in the hand of a warrior” to describe children. Why arrows? Let me offer some reasons.

The arrow needs to be carefully shaped and formed in order to remain sharp. Similarly the character, faith and values of our children need to be carefully shaped and formed.

The archer aims the arrow to guide them in the right direction. Similarly, we need to guide and teach our children to walk in the right path. The archer guides the arrow with skill and strength. Similarly we need to equip ourselves with the skills of parenthood. And the best source to do that is the Word of God!

The arrow can only be launched once. In the same way, our children grow up only once. We have one opportunity to get it right!

And finally, the arrow can be used for good or evil. We need to watch that our children be directed to fulfil the will of God in their lives and not fall into the ways of the world of the evil one.

Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. 

The man who has his quiver filled with arrows is blessed! Therefore, our children are our blessing. We may not have many children these days, hence we cannot claim to have our quiver filled with arrows! But in many ways all members of Bethesda Chapel are “parents” of the new-born babies in our congregation and we thank the Lord for blessing our collective quivers with many arrows!


Deacon Michael Teo