From The Pastor At St. Paul's UCC, Freeburg, IL

This Coming Sunday – Psalm 127

This Sunday we’re going back to our “default setting” of using the Psalms as preaching texts. We’ll stay with the Psalms for two Sundays, then on November 25 we celebrate Christ The King Sunday, then believe it or not, December 2 begins Advent! So here’s the text for this Sunday, with a couple of my thoughts working there way into being a sermon:

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 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.

Sorry about the paragraph formatting of this Psalm – I haven’t figured out yet how to do that on WordPress. In any case here are my thoughts:

  • Scholars and students have long noted that the Psalm seems to have two sections – verses 1-2 (building and watching) and 3-5 (children). These two are not as separate as it may seem at first. The whole Psalm is about building and preserving: first the society, second the family.
  • “Unless the Lord builds the house…” I think this is why we ask God to bless our projects – so they’ll succeed. But the Psalm doesn’t say that the Lord will bless your project. It says there are only two kinds of projects: the Lord’s, and vanity. Seems to me that instead of asking God to bless our projects we need to ask ourselves if we’re onto His project.
  • where I think our culture easily connects with the Psalm is in verse 2 – getting up early, staying up late, “eating the bread of anxious toil”. It’s incredible how busy we’ve become. Seems like everyone is multi-tasking. And while there may be people who do that well (I personally doubt it) there are plenty of us who feel that we’re multi-tasking so much, have so many balls in the air, that we’re doing NOTHING well. Not a whole lotta satisfaction in that – unlike the farmer who works hard all day (maybe doing just one thing) and falls into bed for a well deserved sleep. This is the connection I want to use this Sunday. I think many if not most of us are feeling the law these days (eating the bread of anxious toil). Instead of telling people they have to do one more thing (make more quiet time, read more Bible, pray more, etc. etc.) how about a little gospel (he gives to his beloved sleep). Note: He gives, not they earn.
  • Just to link to the above, Charles Spurgeon wrote quite a sermon on Psalm 127:2 – eloquent as usual. And striking in that he spends most of his time on the phrase “he gives to his beloved sleep”. To read his sermon, go here.

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