This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
Our Need for the Lord's Blessing
Meditation on Psalm 127:1
Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.
This psalm is listed as “A Song of degrees for Solomon”. Obviously it was written by Solomon, the great builder of the temple to which the people went up to for worship. Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in which we read, “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity…Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12: 8, 13). Psalm 127 lays before us the necessary activity of faith.
The activity described is that of building houses and keeping the city. God builds and God keeps through our activity. Without God’s blessing, all is in vain. Building the house is important. The sovereignty of God never minimizes our responsibility. As Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563) wrote, “The Holy Spirit is not the patron of lazy and inert men; but he directs the minds of those who labor to the providence and power of God.” In our activity, we seek and acknowledge not only the providence and power of God but our need for God’s blessing and grace upon our activity. Our duty is to build and keep, as instruments in God’s hands. Activity is necessary.
The activity is building homes. These are covenant dwelling places. The city is a collection of homes. These must be built and kept and guarded. Physically, we do this by godly marriages, God-fearing homes, having and raising children, filling our homes. We do it through our worship on Sunday and planting churches. The spiritual activity is caring for the hearts and souls of believers so that they love, serve, and obey the Lord. This takes place through the preaching of the gospel from Sabbath to Sabbath and from house to house. It is through the gathering of God’s children in missions. We do it through the Christian instruction of our children and the study of God’s Word in devotions and family worship. As fathers, we not only teach our children, but set a godly example. The house and church are built upon the foundation of God’s Word. This house-building is not easy but involves diligent, strenuous labor. Are you laboring?
How we need God’s blessing upon our labors! Twice in our text, we read the words, “in vain.” Without the Lord’s blessing, our labor is worthless, empty, for nothing, and a colossal waste of time and effort. We need the grace of God, His gracious hand blessing our homes and our churches. Only by His grace can our homes be houses of covenant fellowship. Only by His grace can His church be a communion of saints dwelling in blest friendship. That is the opposite of bickering, fighting, strife, and bitterness. May our homes and may our churches be places where God makes His abode!
How we as sinners need our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only by the work of our Lord Jesus, our Mediator, that our sins are forgiven and we receive God’s blessing. Is not this what we confess in Lord’s Day 1? “My only comfort in life and death is that I am not my own, but belong, body and soul, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ”? How desperately we need God’s blessing. Otherwise our building will be like the building of mighty Nimrod in the tower of Babel! Without God’s grace in Jesus Christ, all of our marriages, child rearing, preaching, and mission work is meaningless. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” Do you see your and my need for the LORD’S blessing?
We need to pray for God’s blessing upon our labors. My father would always quote to us children the Latin phrase, “Ora et labora!” Pray and labor. That is what this and many of the psalms are - prayers. The pilgrims to Jerusalem would go up to God’s house, praying. We are nothing. We need God’s blessing! Are you a praying saint? Do you start your labors at the beginning of the day only by calling upon Jehovah to bless and establish your work? That prayer is uttered in joyful expectation! We say with the Apostle Paul, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). It is, as we sing in Psalter # 246,
So let there be on us bestowed the beauty of the Lord our God; The work accomplished by our hand establish thou, and make it stand; Yea let our hopeful labor be established evermore by thee, established evermore by thee.
Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun, Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care; then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done, And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there! James Black, 1856-1938
Rev. Audred Spriensma (Wife: Alva)
Ordained: January 1981
Pastorates: Atwood, MI CRC - 1981; Bethany, S.Holland, IL CRC - 1984; Grandville, MI - 1992; Missionary to the Philippines - 2002; Kalamazoo, MI - 2007; Byron Center, MI - 2010; Home missionary (Byron Center PRC), 2017Website: www.prca.org/missions/domestic
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