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Every ten weeks or so, we pause and contemplatively consider the Psalms in this ongoing series entitled; Psalms Greatest Hits. I invite you to give yourself this time in stillness. Prepare your spirit to be present with these words and to receive from the Lord whatever it is for which He has brought you to this place in this time. There are no coincidences.
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.
This Psalm was written by David as a tribute to his son Solomon, the wisest man who would ever live, and the son who would ultimately build the Temple of the Lord. We can see how David is providing more than just parental advice or coaching about taking over leadership of the kingdom of Israel. David is establishing not “a worldview” but “THE worldview,” the truth behind all leadership, and all human endeavors…namely, if God’s not in it, it’s a vanity and fiction.
Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. (1 Kings 8:17)
David wanted to build the Temple, but he wasn’t allowed “because he had shed much blood and waged many wars” (1 Chronicles 22:8), so David was told that his son Solomon would build it once he sat upon the throne and there was peace in the region. David however, made preparations prior to his death.
This backstory and furthermore, this worldview is largely lost in our modern times. Not only have most people forsaken a worldview where God is sovereign and is humbly sought for direction, protection, wisdom, and guidance, but we live in a world where people and our world leaders have forsaken God completely, who have never sought God for anything, and who seek to make themselves sovereign over all the endeavors of their lives. The result is that anything which is within the heart of man to build, is ultimately a futile gesture of vanity or self-promotion.
Forsaking God is in direct proportion to vain efforts. As a point of application for us, we must, in our sincere silence before our Maker, ask if the endeavors of our life are the impetus of God, or a passion project of our ego or some prideful, selfish motivation.
We must not skim over the trajectory of truth in this text. A city represents the endeavors of the population, which are the outcropping of the collective worldview shared among the majority. Unless the Lord watches over the city… the watchmen stays awake in vain. We watch everyday as our nation’s leaders make the most foolish and unwise decisions. The leaders of the world create policies which make people abdicate their personal power, place their constituents in the bondage of indebted servitude, and prioritize the interests of the institutional power over the interests of their citizens. They are building in vain, and no policy, no candidate, no political party has the power to correct it.
Unless the worldview shifts back to God as sovereign, and people begin to listen and obey again, it is all a vain effort. The ethos of working long arduous hours in hopes of fulfilling our dreams, possesses in it some very positive values which, in part, hold true, but consider the masses of people for whom their whole life is endless work with little or nothing to show for it. This “vanity” is the byproduct of a city who has forsaken God. The clueless constituents can only blame their political opponents, or some other enemy, and never arrive at the truth behind their suffering, which is the Lord is not considered in the building the house.
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 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.
These final three verses seem like a radical pivot from the previous verses. If the two seem disconnected, it is because we live in a kingdom that has forsaken God. The worldview of the “house built by God” is not just that the endeavors of society will have purpose and bring joy and justice to all in the macrocosm, but these verses now reveal the true reward is enjoyed in the microcosm of our families.
You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 18:21)
The majority of our world has rejected God and lives devoted to a god which requires the sacrifice of children. A womb is a dangerous place for a child if the modern mother deems them inconvenient or unwanted or economically untenable. Preventing a pregnancy requires only a modicum of self-control and responsibility, but since the people will not defer the satisfying of their over-desires, they pass their children through the fires of Molech instead. Even if a child gets to live, a career is usually deemed more important than raising one’s child. One’s financial status is deemed more important than innocent life. A city who is not being built by the Lord prefers and insists on sacrificing innocent children, rather than learning how to love in a committed marriage. Such a society should expect its own decline. If its worldview cannot overcome such darkness, no decision coming out of it will make sense, and foolishness and suffering will reign.
Today, our world wants women’s rights but cannot define a woman. Masculinity is considered toxic and courageous man is such only when he wears his sister’s clothes. Citizens that do not know God cannot know themselves, and in the void where the true self should be, the surrogate of identity politics emerges. It’s all falsehood…a fiction…pretense…a facade…vanity.
The True worldview of this Psalm is that children are a gift from God. The family, which much of our society resents, is the reward in itself as a microcosm of all of life. The sacrifice required to raise a healthy family cannot be understated. Families produce makers or takers. When children are not wanted, viewed as a burden, or prefer to be murdered rather than loved and raised by their parents, the folly of the parents is on display for the world to see. This is why so many parents today are “put to shame” by their children.
If you have foolishly believed the ethos of our darkened world and sacrificed a child, I’m told the pain never really goes away. If you live with remorse and this hell follows you, take heart, your buried sorrow means you can still perceive what is right. The world wants you to pridefully forget, but God’s city and family invites you into humility, repentance, and forgiveness, because this city is everlasting, and you will be reunited. Jesus promises that every tear will be wiped away. Every sad thing will become untrue. When the Lord re-builds your city, true healing emerges.
The family is under attack today. Those who worship themselves will increasingly resent and hate the truth as they move further out of conformity to the worldview designed by God and revealed in scripture. The religions of today are ideologies which seek sexual expression without any kind of control. Unfettered sexual expression is a lifestyle of faith in which a person believes their bend is equally as sacred as those who have laid their lives down for each other in a committed marriage. The two kingdoms couldn’t be more divergent. One is loving self-sacrifice for the sake of the other, the other is sacrificing the other for the sake of oneself. Darkness is always a mockery, devoid of light.
If the Lord doesn’t build the house, they labor in vain. Whether its a temple, a government, a business, or a family, if it’s not in keeping with the Lord’s design for society, it will ultimately be futile even if it has some short lived successes. So why is something so clear, so deeply resented within the heart of humanity? May we sit with this pregnant stillness regardless of how uncomfortable it is. May we gain self-awareness to that part within us that wants to leave this moment.
This Psalm is an invitation to come back to God. To halt construction of our lives if we are building them on sand. Reorienting our hearts toward our Maker and the revelation of scripture will NOT make us join a religion, nor make us a weirdo. Instead, it will free us from the religions which have stolen our freedom and it will chart a course back to peace and prosperity. May we all forsake our living hell of our falsehood and vanity, and return to the True worldview, where we are tasked with establishing the city which the Lord has built.