Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 127’


Unless the Lord builds the house,
    those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
    the guard keeps watch in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
    for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the sons of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has
    his quiver full of them.
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

There is a theory in psychology called ‘misattribution theory’, which states in part that we human beings have a universal habit of taking credit for things we have little or no control over, even as we place blame for our failures on those very same things. If I served an ace just now, it was because of my remarkable talent and athletic skill; but if I next send the ball wide of the line, it will be because the sun was in my eyes or my grip slipped on my racket.

The psalmist is probably saying something even more profound: that in addition to possessing the necessary construction skills and sufficient resources, the ultimate will and intention of the universe (which religion names “God”) must be behind and within the effort for the house to be built or else it just won’t get done. This may sound like we’re making God into nothing more than a personification of fate, but spiritual wisdom doesn’t regard God as just another name for “whatever happens.”

There is, rather, an acknowledgement of God as the creative and organizing intelligence that wills the universe into being and guides its evolutionary process. Why is it that the identical blueprint, materials, strategy, and effort can succeed magnificently one year but repeatedly fail later on? We might say “timing,” and the psalmist would agree. Worrying about it won’t help. Instead, keep your eyes open for God-given opportunities!