Friday, November 11, 2016

PSALM  127

"Except the Lord build the house,
they labour in vain that build it:
except the Lord built the city,
the watchman waketh but in vain. 

It is vain for you to rise up early,
to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows:
for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

(verses 1-2)

Once upon a time, I was a high school senior, almost completely alone as a Christian in my school.
I read a book by Anne Kimmel that challenged me: basically, to take the Bible literally.  I mean, I thought I already did, but she challenged the reader to take it to the next level, as a step of faith to claim it.  So, what if we literally take the words of this Psalm.  I know you do, but really take that leap of faith that it is true... 

"Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord built the city,
the watchman waketh but in vain.  How does this happen?  By prayer and obedience.  Have you noticed that so many have missed the basics, even in the church, that they are playing around marriage, building their house, without marriage.  Don't get me wrong, I am so very glad they are in church, and I love them to death.  But they are building a shaky relationship, a sham marriage built upon sand if they do not surrender in obedience by taking the vows instead of just living together.  How is it built?  Brick by brick, precept upon precept on a solid foundation, because storms do come, and a house built upon the sand crumbles.

Adam Clarke said in the 1700's, "All marriages that are not under God's blessing, will be a private and public curse.  This we see every day."

"...they labour in vain...It is vain for  rise up early, to sit up late."  Goodness!  God is in our business., isn't He.  Just a reminder that Scripture can be fulfilled in many ways, such as it can apply to our lives today as well as refer back to times in history.


This Psalm can be considered to be about Nehemiah rebuilding the temple.  "The Jews  had now  a trowel in one hand, and a sword in the other...They were under attack so that he armed his people and placed them behind the wall.  To prevent surprise attacks, he kept one half the people always under arms, while the other half was employed in the work.  Adam Clarke goes on to say, "Though you should watch constantly, guard everyplace, and keep on your armour, ready to repel every attack; yet remember the success of all depends upon the presence and blessing of God.  ... for there is no success, either in spiritual or secular undertakings, but in consequence of the benediction of the Almighty."

Thus, "It is vain for you to rise up early," There seems to be here an allusion to the daily and nightly watches which Nehemiah instituted.  The people were worn out with constant labour and watching: he therefore, divided them in such a manner...As for Nehemiah and his servants, they never put off their clothes day or night but for washing." (Adam Clarke)  (There were times when I was up so much with children who constantly woke every two hours, that I slept in my clothes so I would be ready to greet whoever knocked at the parsonage door the next morning trying to be clothed and in my right mind.)

Then there is the delicious phrase, "For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep."  First, don't gloss over that God has called us His beloved.  Let that sink in.  Actually, if you can grasp that, it is the best way to prepare to rest.  Make sure you put that into your bedtime routine.  It is even more important than brushing your teeth, that you daily grasp the fact that you are God's beloved. 

God can give us restorative sleep instead of tossing and turning and churning in worry.  "Those that love God, and are beloved of Him, have their minds easy and live very comfortably... God give us sleep as He gives it to His beloved when with it He gives us grace to lie down in his fear (our souls returning to him and reposing in him as our rest), and when we awake to be still with him and to use the refreshment we have by sleep in his service. ..that is, quietness and contentment of mind, a comfortable enjoyment of what is present and a comfortable expectation of what is to come."  (Matthew Henry)

(Except I woke up last night thinking of current events,
riots and protests and the divided state of our country
and had to put this to the test, praying and resting in His hands.)

Okay, I love that image of "souls returning to Him and reposing in Him as our rest."  Where does our soul go when we sleep?  Isn't it an amazing thought that it can rest snuggled up to God.  I've told it many times before, but once when my heart  was so burdened with the discovery of abuse of  little children in a church we pastored, I fell asleep with this terrible heaviness.  Somehow, in God's mercy, when I awoke, the sound of angel singing faded as I opened my eyes completely refreshed.  It was a divine moment I'll never forget.  It made me aware that God truly can minister in our sleep even when we have no knowledge of how he does.

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