Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (v. 1, ESV).
I had the unique experience of building the same house twice.
My wife and I built a house that burned down 12 years later. We rebuilt the same house. After building this house the first time, being a perfectionist, I would say, “If I could build this house again, I would change this and this and this.”
It was quite a list of 68 items.
Then our house burned down, and I changed all 68 in the rebuild – better kitchen cabinets and countertops, larger back porch, better garbage disposal, different heating system, and another 62 items.
We all get the opportunity to rebuild our lives. No matter what you dislike or even hate about yourself, when you are born again – the past is forgiven, and you can begin building again.
Some of us have decades of re-building. I began re-building my burned-out life when I was 18, and I’ve been under continuous re-construction for 50 years. Some start the rebuilding process in their 40s.
My father-in-law accepted Jesus two weeks before he passed but during those last two weeks, the entire family was amazed at the rebuilding speed of the Holy Spirit!
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain (v. 1).
What is built must be defended.
Whereas a house on earth may be attacked by fire, we have a roaring lion seeking to devour our lives (1 Peter 5:8).
The Apostle Paul writes to Titus, encouraging him to be a watchman:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age… Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you (Titus 2:11-12, 15).
The Psalmist discusses faithfulness to Jesus and our willingness to defend our house. But a warning is also given against overwork:
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 (v. 2).
The Psalms mention “sleep” about 50 times. Learning to not work in vain remains the most important directive to sleep well. If we work in our own strength and according to our own ideas – we must rely upon our own strength.
Difficult to sleep when you oversee your life and work. Have you noticed that the wealthy are often the ones disliking their houses, cars, and luxury items? Only God and His plans bring peace and sleep!
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth (v. 3).
What ultimate use is life without helping the next generation?
It can be children, grandchildren, or spiritual children. Our ultimate reward in heaven will not reflect piles of accumulated wealth but our influence in the lives of others.
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 (v. 5).
Arrows in a quiver – this passage discusses more than children. It teaches that your “arrows,” or people that you have discipled, raised, and influenced, will be the blessings of your latter years.
Also… read carefully… enemies enter through the gate. Those whom you have influence with, stand with you in difficult times. How lonely the person, after a long life, who stands alone without friends when attacks, sickness, or death approaches.
I must admit, I’m thinking of changing a few things at my house this summer.