Unless the LORD Builds the House
by Jacob Hudgins
“Unless 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”(Psa 127:1).
Americans are all about accomplishments. We love to read inspiring stories of how companies are built, great athletes develop, and wars are won. Particularly Americans enjoy stories that highlight hard work and ingenuity. Here Solomon—a well-accomplished man in his own right—teaches us the danger of glorifying ourselves and what we have done while ignoring God’s hand in it.
“Unless 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”(Psa 127:1). Who is responsible for the things we accomplish? Who has built our houses and cities? Who protects the things that matter to us—our works, our valuables, our loved ones? If we see ourselves as the answer to any of these questions, Solomon reminds us that this is “vain.” Inevitably the house, city, or family will collapse or be destroyed because we are so limited.
This also extends to our hard work. “It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep”(Psa 127:2). There are forces and situations that we cannot work ourselves out of. If I alone am responsible for my accomplishments—and responsible for their safeguarding—then I am always ill-at-ease, concerned about the next thing I must do or watch out for. Those who trust the LORD sleep soundly, knowing that he can protect what matters to us.
Accomplishments are not bad. Hard work is a part of what God made us to do (Eph 4:28). The question of importance is: Is there room for God in the things I am doing, building, and most concerned about?