Psalm 127:1 - The Verses Project

Bible Psalm 127:1

Posted October 27, 2014

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.

Psalm 127, written by Solomon, fits under two categories: it is both a song of Ascent and also a wisdom psalm. The songs of ascent (Psalm 120-134) were sung by Israel as they would make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship three times a year. Wisdom psalms read much like the book of Proverbs, and the subject matter generally pertains to all of life, not just a focused engagement with God through prayer and praise. It stands as a reminder that the worship of God was never intended to be an escape from our everyday “mundane” realities, but rather one increasingly shapes and influences how we see all of life, including our work.

Solomon utilizes two images to help show God’s role in both in the creation of our hands as well as our preservation and protection:

The Builder

God created the universe. Made in His image, we too were born to create & build as sub-creators. We create under His care and supervision to His glory in the very power and creativity He supplies. This verse acknowledges a dependence and trust in God as the One who ultimately establishes our work. It reminds us we are not the only builders out there, but over all our work and building is a Great and Sovereign Builder. We do not create in a God-less vacuum, but rather in a universe that was designed to bring praise to God and point to His beauty and goodness. It’s hard not to think of those who in sinful arrogance designed and built the tower of Babel in Genesis 11, without consideration of God, and in turn, its effects. May we work and labor and build in humility, in faith, and in worship of our Creator God.

The Watchman

Not only is God involved in the work of our hands, but also in our preservation and protection. A watchman’s job was to stay awake through the watches of night in order to protect the city and alarm its citizens should enemies come seeking their harm as they sleep. In the same way the first part of verse 1 reminds us that our work should be cast in light of God’s work, so too we are reminded that our preservation and protection lies in more than just our policemen or armies. Just as God’s work does not preclude our work, so too God’s protection does not dismiss law enforcement agencies; it never says these are unimportant. Rather, it points to the truth that above our watchmen is a Great Watchman who never slumbers or sleeps, and is king over every square inch of the universe. While we are grateful for laws and the government’s protection, our ultimate hope and trust does not lie in them but rather in God.

Continue to build under the Great Builder. Continue to trust in the Great Watchman.


Song by Chris Clark.
Artwork by Emily Carlton.