In Luke 2 is the story of twelve year old Jesus in the temple. The story begins, “Now his parents went to Jerusalem EVERY YEAR at the Feast of the Passover.” That was part of building their house, their family in the Lord. Psalm 127 is a pilgrim psalm attributed to Solomon, “Unless the Lord builds the house those who build it labor in vain.” Making a pilgrimage was about family building.
All human efforts must be founded on a firm trust in God’s grace and assistance in daily life. Of course, these efforts of building a house and the vigilance to keep it in order is a matter of great toil, since we are children of fallen Adam. We find we may be “eating the bread of anxious toil.” (v. 2) What good are we doing ourselves by rising up early and going to bed late? No matter how much we anxiously toil, our food is a gift of God to his beloved children. We acknowledge that when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Rest in bed is another of God’s gift.
The psalm proceeds with some irony that one of the most important blessings of house building takes place in bed. It is in the context of rest and the bed that God’s gift of children are conceived. Children are purely a gift of God. Children are the only fruit that we can produce. That’s why Elizabeth told Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” No one else in the history of the world will give birth to God.
Our psalm says that children are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. They are a support when the man sits and deliberates with his neighbors in the gate of the city over which the Lord keeps constant vigilance.
The psalm points us to the conclusion that whatever we do, do it in the name of the Lord, trusting in his care the blessings. For we are caught between being children of God and children of Adam. But if we disregard God, then in the end all we have is the toil and grief of the curse placed on Adam and Eve.