A song of ascents. Of Solomon.
Unless the LORD builds the house,
Psalms 127:1-5 (NIV)
I was just sharing with a friend how this Psalm hit me in a moment of anxiety and stress. I was struck by the progression in it, particularly from the vanity of frantic working, toiling, and going without sleep in an attempt to handle the difficulty of life. Then came the answer—God’s answer: children. Although a number of my friends had urged me to use my little blessings more extensively, it wasn’t until I saw it in this Psalm that I resolved to really hold the boys up to higher expectations of helping around the house (and around life!).
Tonight I went through some commentaries to see if any of the wise men I respect noticed the same thing. I found some interesting and even humorous things in Adam Clarke’s 19th century commentary.
This Psalm may be entitled, "The Soliloquy of the happy Householder: - The
poor man with a large loving family, and in annual expectation of an increase,
because his wife, under the Divine blessing, is fruitful." All are blessed of
the Lord, and his hand is invariably upon them for good.
—Adam Clarke's Commentary
This is his summary. Read on for some of the particulars that I liked.
Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord - That is, To many God gives children in
place of temporal good. To many others he gives houses, lands, and thousands of
gold and silver, and with them the womb that beareth not; and these are their
inheritance. The poor man has from God a number of children, without lands or
money; these are his inheritance; and God shows himself their father, feeding
and supporting them by a chain of miraculous providences. Where is the poor man
who would give up his six children, with the prospect of having more, for the
thousands or millions of him who is the center of his own existence, and has
neither root nor branch but his forlorn solitary self upon the face of the
earth? Let the fruitful family, however poor, lay this to heart; "Children are a
heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward." And he who gave
them will feed them; for it is a fact, and the maxim formed on it has never
failed, "Wherever God sends mouths, he sends meat." "Murmur not," said an Arab
to his friend, "because thy family is large; know that it is for their sakes
that God feeds thee." —Adam Clarke's Commentary
Kind of cute since my best friend happens to have six children. What a rich couple she and her husband are!!! I also love that he seems to agree with my crazy idea that God will feed my boys and I through “a chain of miraculous providences.” Some of those providences might include different types of work, some might include the generosity and love of others, and who knows? Sometimes it might be manna from heaven or flour and oil that never seems to run out!
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them - This is generally supposed
to mean his house full of children, as his quiver if full of arrows; but I
submit whether it be not more congenial to the metaphors in the text to consider
it as applying to the wife: "Happy is the man who has a breeding or fruitful
wife;" this is the gravida sagittis pharetra "the quiver pregnant with arrows."
But it may be thought the metaphor is not natural. I think otherwise: and I know
it to be in the Jewish style, and the style of the times of the captivity, when
this Psalm was written—Adam Clarke's Commentary
I LOVE it!!! I know a breeding, fruitful wife, and even though she’s a bit fruity at times, her husband IS a blessed man!
With the enemies in the gate. - "When he shall contend with his adversaries in
the gate of the house of judgment." - Targum. The reference is either to courts
of justice, which were held at the gates of cities, or to robbers who endeavor
to force their way into a house to spoil the inhabitants of their goods. In the
first case a man falsely accused, who has a numerous family, has as many
witnesses in his behalf as he has children. And in the second case he is not
afraid of marauders, because his house is well defended by his active and
vigorous sons. It is, I believe, to this last that the psalmist refers.
Heh, heh, heh. Don’t I know all about this! People comment that I don’t have to fear a burglar because of the German Shepherd guarding our house. Forget the dog! Look out for my little "virgorous and active sons!" They spend HOURS a day practicing the use of their weapons, and would LOVE to practice on living human subjects of the bad-guy kind!
Anyway, these are just thoughts from me. I do love this Psalm. It’s interesting how in our culture we’ve inverted the role of children to being our burden instead of relieving our burden.