Today's Devotions

Showcase: Assorted Treats

  • Transforming this World: The Hope of Glory by NT Wright +

    Wright confronts the perspective that this world doesn’t matter, and that we live only to be in heaven. He shows Read More
  • Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire +

    It is doubtful if, in 1972, those attending one of Jim Cymbala's worship services in a run-down Brooklyn church imagined Read More
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Don  Carsonhttp://www.esvbible.org/Joshua+3/

http://www.esvbible.org/Psalms+126-128/

http://www.esvbible.org/Isaiah+63/

http://www.esvbible.org/Matthew+11/

THE FIRST VERSE OF Psalm 127 is often quoted today: "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain."

In an age of overpopulation, we less often cite verse 3: "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him." We may gain some helpful perspective by observing four things.
First, in Hebrew the psalm deploys a couple of word plays that are lost in English, and these plays give pointers as to how to read the psalm. The word house (Ps. 127:1) can refer to a building. By extension, this is then applied to the city in a metaphorical sense (Ps. 127:1b -3). More importantly, house can also refer to a household, built up in this case by the blessing of children (Ps. 127:3-5). Moreover, builders and sons sound very similar in Hebrew.

Second, this suggests that the unifying theme through the superficially disparate parts of the psalm is that in every sphere of life only the blessing and provision of God can bring about a successful outcome. At the most mechanical level of building a house, this is true. God gives strength to the workers; he sustains them in life; he restrains himself from sending a catastrophic storm that would tear the structure down; countless surprises may be avoided (unsafe concrete, a quagmire under the topsoil, "accidents" that take out workers, and countless more).

The same principle is true in the basic defensive operation of watching over a city wall, or defending a nation with a radar system: if God sustains you, your defense will suffice, and if he does not, then no matter how professional and expensive it is, it will prove inadequate. In the home, procreation is a "natural" function, but in a providentially ordered world, children are an inheritance from the Lord. The lesson to be learned is not passivity, but trust and rest, a godly lowering of frenzied labor (Ps. 127:2).

Third, Psalm 127 stands among the songs of ascent precisely because the pilgrimage up to Jerusalem in observance of the covenantally prescribed feasts provides an excellent occasion to reflect on God's gracious provision in every area of life (compare also Ps. 128).

Fourth, alone among the songs of ascent this one is ascribed to Solomon.

Sadly, Solomon is a figure whose great wisdom was sometimes not followed in his own life: his own building program, both physical and metaphorical, became foolish (1 Kings 9:10-19), his kingdom a ruin (1 Kings 11:11-13; see the October 8 meditation), and his household — not least his multiplied pagan marriages — a systematic denial of the claims of the living God (1 Kings 11:1-9). How important to ask God for the grace to live up to what we understand!

Joshua 3; Psalms 126-128; Isaiah 63; Matthew 11

Reflections to Consider

  • Corporate Spirituality

    Encouragement, Accountability, and Worship Solitude, community and ministry are three areas requiring balance and integration in the Christian walk. The Read More
  • Companion of the Souls

    When the two disciples recognised Jesus as he broke the bread for them in their house in Emmaus, he "vanished Read More
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Publications

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Music

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Audio & Video

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Favorites

  • Transforming this World: The Hope of Glory by NT Wright +

    Wright confronts the perspective that this world doesn’t matter, and that we live only to be in heaven. He shows Read More
  • What is Good in a World that Defies Hope: a talk by NT Wright +

    This is the second part of three talks by NT Wright at Harvard University in November, 2008 on the topic Read More
  • The Stream, the Lake and the River: NT Wright +

      Acts 2.1-21; John 7.37-39; a sermon at the Eucharist on the Feast of Pentecost, 11 May 2008, by the Read More
  • Jesus in the Perfect Storm by NT Wright +

    Zechariah 9.9-17; Luke 19.28-48; A sermon for Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011, In the University Chapel of St Salvator, St Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • Warfare Spirituality +

    The Trinity function as farmers of our souls, actively caring for God’s creation: an ongoing, radical reclamation of His creation. Read More
  • You are free +

    The Jesus who calmed a sea of deadly, stormy waves, whose arrival sent thousands of demons cringing and cowering to Read More
  • Deliver us from Evil +

    Spiritual warfare is something that few Christians, regardless of their denomination, are accustomed to thinking about, let alone engaging in. Read More
  • Baby, you're a rich man! +

    The lover of money will not be satisfied with money; nor the lover of wealth, with gain. This also is Read More
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