Sermon: If The Lord Does Not Build It: Psalm 127

NT Reading- Matt 11:25-30

OT Passage- Psalm 127

For Sermon on 04/23/16

  1. Pray, Reflect, Planning Begins
  2. Read and Digest the thought of the text
  3. Identify the FCF- Our need to constantly set our minds of proper things, lest our sinful minds and hearts lead us away for the truth of God’s word.
  4. Research the Text

5.   Consider specific applications

6.   Collect Developmental Matter

7.   Create an Outline

8.   Practice

9.   Pray

10. Preach

Psalm 127

1 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.

2 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.

3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,

the fruit of the womb a reward.

4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior

are the children[a] of one’s youth.

5 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.

Sermon Outline


  1. Good Morning Church. As usual, it is an honor to be able to share with you God’s word on this Lords day.
    1. The NT reading today will be coming from Matt 11:25-30. And The OT text for today, and the scripture for which todays message will come from, is Psalm 127. I will read them out loud but feel free to turn and follow along in you bibles if you would like.
    2. Lets now give our attention to the reading of God’s Holy word.
  2. Read NT-
    1. Matt 11:25-30 At that time (Referring to Jesus teaching a crowd after revealing his messiahship to John the Baptist and as he was beginning to reveal his identity to the surrounding audience) Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Read OT

  1. Psalm 127- 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. 2 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. 3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children[a] of one’s youth. 5 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.


  1. Introduce topic and Sermon content


  1. I do hope that everyone had a good Easter Sunday last week with their family and friends and that you were able to enjoy the season of remembering and reflecting on the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection.
  2. If we follow the biblical narrative, we are now in the time where Jesus would have spent the apx. 40 days on earth before his ascension and before the Holy Spirit coming at pentecost.
  3. It was soon after the resurrection of Christ, Jesus appeared to his disciples on the road to Emmaus (of which our Church is named after).
  4. During the time Christ spent on the earth, post resurrection, it was further evidence (better yet final evidence) and confirmation of who Christ was and what Jesus had truly accomplished on the cross.
  5. And rather than completing His work on the cross, and immediately taking His rightful heavenly throne, Christ still continued to humble himself on the earth in His post resurrection body and teach his disciples further truths about the OT scriptures, Himself, and the connection between the two.
  6. The Lord was gracious, clearly, in the sending of His son for the atonement of His people’s sins. But even further grace was shown as he continued His stay on earth!
  7. Much of the scriptural topic that we will talk about today revolves around the immense goodness of God. But then again so does most, if not all, of scripture for that matter.
  8. The goodness of God is something in-itself that we could spend an entire Lord’s day reflection upon and talking about.
  9. But today’s message is not just about the goodness of God. It is equally about the sovereignty of God and the divine connection between the two.
  10. Actually, these two theological concepts are probably the two I spend the most time reflecting upon more than any other.
  11. God’s Goodness and God’s Sovereignty are both profound and both and mysterious.
  12. And Both seem very to be unique and distinct in their own right.
  13. But the interesting thing about today’s message is that Psalm 127 seems blend both of these seemingly unrelated theological concepts into what appears to be a harmonious union between the realm of God’s Sovereignty and the application of His Goodness.
  14. So let us first take a moment to briefly set the stage for the proper interpretation and application of Psalm 127, by first looking at the background of Psalm 127.


  1. The 127th Psalm is located in the 5th and final book of the broad categories of the Psalms.
  2. It is titled a “Song of Ascents. Of Solomon”. And most most scholars believe that these Psalms are identified as ‘Songs of Ascents’ because they were sung by pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem. In which the pilgrims had to ‘ascend’ to in order get through the mountainous areas as Jerusalem. The city of Jerusalem exists within a series of hills and valleys and is located 2,500 feet above sea level; being protected on three sides by natural valleys.
  3. The Psalms of Ascents consist of 15 Psalms ranging from Psalms 120-134.
  4. There is some debate on exactly who wrote the Psalm, with scholars agreeing on either Solomon or David. This disagreement is mainly due to the scholars disagree of the Hebrew construction and the translation of the word “of”. Some view the syntax to mean a Psalm “of” Solomon”, where others interpret the word “for” Solomon.
  5. However, Calvin believes, along with other scholars, that there is no reason to NOT see Solomon as the author of this Psalm. And that a the writing and content of the psalm fit very well with the writings of Solomon.
  6. Thus, It does seem most plausible and likely that the author of Psalm 127 is, in fact, Solomon.
  7. So with some of this brief background information laid out the better help us under properly understanding and application of the Psalm, lets now take a closer look at the direct context and meaning of this Psalm.


  1. VS. 1
    1. In verse 1, the poet displays that everything is ultimately dependent upon the blessing of God. The Author states that “Unless the Lord builds”, then those who build do so in vain. Note though that the verse does not say that Unless the Lord builds, then nothing will happen and there will be no building. Rather, the Psalmist says that the builder, minus God, does so in vain.
    2. Furthermore, in the second part of Verse 1, the author says that “Unless the Lord watches over the city”, then the watchman, minus God, watches in vain.
    3. The building of a house and safety of a city are both followed with a common duplication of the word “unless”. This type of repetitive wording is a common theme in Hebrew poetry, especially in the Psalms.
    4. The reasoning for this form of duplicative writing was to emphasize an extremely important point, saying something in two different ways, rather than just one.
    5. The overall point being that, all work outside of the hand of God is in vain. Without the involvement of God in human affairs, it is not only unwise to not involve God, it is nonsensical. For what can man do outside of the sovereign hand of the almighty God in heaven?
    6. This was a point that Job leaned the hard way, as God responded to Job’s trials in the book of Job chapters 38-42. If you have time, I would recommend you read these chapters, as God goes into great detail about his sovereign, complete, and holy reign over all creation.
    7. And as we look at verse 1,  we see that the Hebrew word that is translated as “unless” could also be translated as “never” or “without”, inferring the message that “without God, the builder of a house and the safety of a town are simply and ultimately not possible” outside of the sovereign hand and works of God.
    8. For without the Lord and His blessing, what could even exist at all? As Job was so gently reminded in Chapters 38-42 of his book.
    9. Furthermore, the fact that the author of Psalm 127 specifically chose to reflect on the Lord’s role in the building of a house and the safety of a city is a timeless principal that can directly be understand even in our culture today.
    10. For what two things could be more important in the sustaining of our direct safety concerns and needs than a home and safe city?
    11. Thus, the Psalmist takes two concepts (building of a house and sustaining of a city) that all of the readers would have clearly understood to communicate this simple trifold point: God gives, God provides, and God sustains.
  2. VS. 2.
    1. In verse 2, after setting the stage for the Lord’s role in the creating and sustaining of reality, the psalmist then transitions to the opposite perspective on God’s sovereignty in building and sustaining; focusing instead on the vanity of man’s hard work.
    2. The structure of the Psalm, again draws out a twofold contrast, this time contrasting Gods sovereign goodness with mans vanity in work.
    3. The psalmist stresses the meaninglessness of man’s long hours of work,  when it is done outside of the guiding and sovereign hand of the Lord.
    4. The poet states that in one’s rising early and resting late, that we engage in the “bread of anxious toil.”
    5. Now, the phrase “eating the bread of anxious toil” is very analogous in nature, being clearly understood by even the most elementary of readers. But when you take a moment to reflect on this statement and trace it back to its root, the statement become even more clear, meaningful, and profound.
      1. Turn with me if you will to Genesis 3:17 as I read verses 17- 19.
      2. The words in Genesis 3:17-19 come about after mankind had entered into sin and the Lord was telling Adam of the consequences of his actions in disobeying the commands of God.
      3. 3:17-19 And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you,’You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;  and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
      4. Genesis 3:17-19 was most likely one of the main, if not the main, portion of scripture in the mind of the psalmist when referring to “ eating the bread of anxious toil” in vs. 2.
      5. In the garden, sin was brought into the world, and what did sin do? It separated man from his creator in every way, forcing him into a life of struggling to live and provide on his own ability instead of resting in the providential goodness of his creator.
      6. And though Psalm 127 is classified as an Ascent Psalm, in many ways it almost meets the criteria for being a messianic Psalm, as who other than Christ is able to free mankind from the bondage of self sustainability outside of the caring hand of the God of the Universe.
      7. Many believe that all Psalms can be indirectly tied to Christ, as do I, and that is certainly true here. Psalm 127 looks back to the effects of the fall in the beginning of scripture, while simultaneously looking forward to the benefits and glory of the messiahs atoning work on the cross.
    6. Directly after explaining the curse of the eating of the bread of anxious toil, the Psalm immediately contrasts the work of anxious toil, with the rest that God gives to His beloved.
    7. for it is God who is able to give rest in the midst of toil. And that rest is reserved only for His beloved.
      1. But note that it is not the Sleep that is contrasted with labor, rather it is contrasted with the trouble and care that come about from laboring outside of the hand of God. Sleep is evidently contrasted with the late working of those who do not give themselves up to God’s protection, which are clearly alluded to in the first part of the verse.
      2. And it it is at this point, at the end of verse 2, that the psalmist transitions to the comparatively different topic of children.
  3. Vs 3-5
    1. Verses 3-5 primary focus specifically on the fact that Children are firstly and primarily a gift from God.
    2. And as I first began to read and study this Psalm, I really struggled with seeing the direct connection between verses 1 and 2 with verses 3-5.
    3. For what is the connection between rest and anxiety, … and having Children?
    4. Surely there can be no logical connection between a good nights rest and children, could there!? (emphasize joke)…
    5. But in all seriousness, it was not immediately clear what the psalmist was trying to connect between these two concepts.
    6. We do know, however, that the Psalms is written with contrasting parallels, and dichotomies to further bring about more profound points. Thus, the two concepts could not just be arbitrary.
    7. So, upon further reflection and study, a picture of the combined concept of the Psalmist’s point began to appear, and it only became clearer and clearer as I looked deeper into the text.
    8. In verses 1 and 2, the poet reveals that God is both sovereign over the affairs of all things and that He blesses those who are his beloved with rest. And In vs 3, the author refers to children both as a heritage from the Lord and fruit of the woman womb; a gift from God. Also that these “children” will continue to bless and help care for the needs of the parent in the context of the broader community. Vs. 3-5
    9. Hence nearly the exact same point is being made in the two overtly contrasting topics of (work and rest) and (children and protection).
    10. The clear point the poet is displaying is this: that children are a blessing from God. And that rest is a blessing from God. And it is through God’s design that ones children will continue to sustain and bless the parent into old age. And that it is God who cares for and watches over the city. All means ultimately come from God.
    11. In addition, the author continues this point in verse 4 when he compares the children of ones youth to “arrows” being in the hand of a warrior. And of what use are “arrows” other than to protect the one from his foes and adversaries.
    12. Furthermore, in verse 5 the poet again extends the analogy of children and arrows, as he says that the one who fills his “quiver” with them shall not be put to shame.
      1. If you do not know, a quiver is a backpack like container where an archer would store his arrows until they were needed to be shot from the bow.
      2. Thus the analogy shows that a quiver full of arrows is likened to that of a household of godly and believing children.
      3. For in the same way that a household of ungodly and unbelieving children can bring about much anxiety and grief from the father, a household of godly and believing children bring about great joy and blessings. And he who has such children, “shall not be put to shame”
      4. For when enemies come to greet a father at the city gate, no shame shall come upon the father, for his children are his inheritance and protection.
      5. Thus not only does God use his sovereign ways to watch over the home and city of a man, he also uses the practical means of childrearing to bring about security and confidence in the wake of adversity.
    13. Therefore, what is the ultimate connection between the verses 1 through 2 and verses 3 trough 5?  Only that God is the one who is behind both the blessings given to man and the workings coming from  man.
    14. For who is behind the plans of Man? God alone.
    15. Who is the only one who truly sustains the city? God alone.
    16. Who is the one who blesses His beloved with children? God alone.
    17. And who is the one who that allows the creation and rearing of Children to further reinforce the gates of the City? God alone.
    18. It is God, and only God, who sustains all things under the sun.
  1. As I begin to conclude my sermon for today there are four points of application that I would like to draw from Psalm 127.


  1. Be Humble before the Lord.
    1. Without God, we are nothing.
    2. All endeavors ever began by any man through all of history, all are through and under the sovereign hand of the Lord.
    3. When sin entered the world though the disobedience of man, the relationship between the creation and creator was severed. One of the primary downfalls that entered into humanity in that first sin was that man went from godly dependence upon the lord, to worldly independence.
    4. Mankind today often likes to boast of all of its accomplishments, yet very rarely is any credit given to God.
    5. In fact, just yesterday the world celebrated the anniversary of Earth day. As I read articles and saw news clips on events that took place across the world, so much attention was given to the sustaining of the creation, without a single reference to the Creator. And How foolish it is to worship the creation, rather than the creator. (Rom 1:25)
    6. As the Psalmist says to build or sustain without the direct knowledge of the sovereign hand of the Lord, is to do so in vain.
    7. So, Church, go to your creator, and be humbled before him as Job was when the Lord so graciously responded to his pleas and cries. Worship Him and Him alone for He is your sovereign creator.
    8. This brings me to my second point of application.
  2. God is Sovereignly Good over his creation.
    1. God is actively at work with watching over His creation. And not only is God just Sovereign over all things, God is Sovereignly good.
    2. As Paul tells us in Romans 8:28. God is actively at work, behind the plans and workings of mankind.
    3. The Lord is the one who sustains the works of man and brings them to fruition. And it is the Lord who blesses families with children to continue to grow both the family and the Church.
    4. But on a slight side note, I have often heard many Christians ask the question “If God is Sovereign, and He ultimately is going to work out all things for His good, then where does the line between my work and plans and his work and plans intersect?
    5. Have you ever struggled with this question before church?
    6. Well, this question merits an entire sermon in itself, maybe that can be my topic for next time. But I will briefly share with you the seasoned words of John Calvin on this point, as he comments on this portion of scripture,
      1. Calvin states, The Lord does not want us to be like logs of wood, or to sit idle; he expects us to put to use whatever abilities we may have. It is of course true that the heaviest part of our labors comes from God’s curse. But even if man’s original state of integrity had remained, God would still have desired us to keep busy. Adam was put in a garden to cultivate it. Solomon does not condemn what God approves, and certainly not the labor men undertake gladly at God’s command and offer to him as an acceptable sacrifice. But to keep men from being blinded by pride and from grasping at what belongs to God, he warns them that hard work wins success only so far as God blesses our labor.
    7. You see, church, the Lord works through the plans of man to ultimately accomplish His own sovereign plans. Nothing can thwart the plans of God. Yet man goes about his business on the earth. This relationship is a bit of a mystery. But when we acknowledge the sovereign hand of God as being behind our plans, God works through our work to bring about his ways and his purposes. And in doing so is actively working all things for good.
    8. So trust freely in the sovereign goodness of your creator, knowing that He will both direct your path and bring about His will.
    9. Thirdly,
  1. Children are a blessing and our future. Do not forget that.
  1. If you are a parent, the reality is you have had a day (or several days) where you wrestled with the fact that your children Do Not seem like a blessing and gift from God.
  2. But posterity is often represented as a blessing from God throughout the scriptures (Ge 30:2, 18; 1 Sa 1:19, 20). Children are represented as the defenders (arrows) of their parents in war, and in litigation. Thus, children are a form of divine providence for their parents.
  3. Let us remember this fact Church, and all be emboldened together to raising our Children in the light and knowledge that they are a gift from God. Regularly reflecting that our children are gifts on loan to us from outperform creator.
  4. The Church of tomorrow are the children of today. So Let us also not forget the awesome responsibility we have been given to raise up the next generation.
  5. Fourthly and Finally,
  1. True rest is only found in Christ.
  1. A good night of rest is a true gift from God, wouldn’t you agree Church.
  2. According to CDC, nearly half of American’s do not get enough sleep each night. They have declared sleep depravity as a public health crisis. This is bad news for many in America today.
  3. But even though resting well at night is most certainly a gift from god, and a good nights sleep most certainly was part of what the psalmist had in mind in verse 2., the true meaning of the word “sleep” is so much more than just a good nights rest.
  4. The sleep the psalmist refers to here is of a divine form, a form that only the beloved are able to partake in.
  5. In verse 1 workaholics are addressed. They begin their labors early and continue them late; and through constant anxiety they may lose all the enjoyment of that which they earn. Eating that unpalatable bread of anxious toil as they attempt to retire for the night.
  6. But those who are in fellowship with the Lord, however, enjoy their divine sleep.
  7. They are able to work hard, yet rest easy. They are able to toil, all while toiling for the Lord. They are able to rise early in the knowledge that the day ahead ultimately rests in the hands of the Lord.
  8. If you get nothing else from this message today, church, please at the very least get this “Do not eat the bread of anxious toil”. For it is a bread of which we were not made to digest.
  9. If Christ is your king, may you rest easy in all aspects of your life, partaking of the divine slumber only given to Christ’s own.
  10. If you do not know Christ, then it is my prayer that you are only further broken by my beginning and closing statement from Christ. In hopes that your creator is reaching out to you to offer the divine rest that only He can offer. And if you do know Christ, then Christian, may you be encouraged by your masters words, For Christ tells those who hear Him…

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


Basic Outline 

  1. NT Read
  2. OT Read
  3. Pray
  4. Intro
  5. Story to bring about topic
  6. Merge to Gods Sovereignty and Goodness
  7. Resting in Gods Sovereignty and Goodness
  8. Lead into Psalm 127
  9. Background of Psalm 127
  10. Exegete Psalm 127
  11. Apply Psalm 127
  12. Final thoughts/recap
  13. Conclusion
  14. Pray

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