By David Faust
America’s Founding Fathers declared their independence from England, but they recognized their dependence on God. The signers of the Declaration of Independence concluded the document by affirming that “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
A Caution to the Arrogant
Psalm 127 shows that all of us should have a firm reliance on God and his providence. “Unless the Lord builds the house,” says Solomon, “the builders labor in vain” (v. 1a). Most of the Psalms are associated with David, but this one is ascribed to his son; and if anyone knew about building a house for the Lord, it was Solomon who built the temple in Jerusalem. The temple was a marvel of architectural and spiritual beauty, but while human effort was important, it wasn’t sufficient without God’s help. God provided the materials of wood and stone. God gave the designers their insight and the builders their skill.
Whatever goals we pursue, we must rely on the Lord. Our efforts will fail if we build on human wisdom alone. “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain” (v. 1b).
A Warning to the Workaholic
Solomon continues, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat” (v. 2a). There’s nothing wrong with hard work. The Bible instructs us to work with our hands and earn our daily bread, and at times we must “rise up early” and “stay up late” in order to get our work done. But if we work nonstop without resting our bodies and minds, we’re not trusting sufficiently in God’s sustaining grace.
“For he grants sleep to those he loves” (v. 2b). A good night’s sleep is one of God’s good gifts—a token of his love. The New American Standard Bible’s alternate translation, “For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep,” suggests that even while we are resting, the Lord is at work preparing gifts of grace we’ll experience upon awaking. God not only gives us rest; he gives to us while we rest.
Workaholics, take note: Sad is the life full of activity but devoid of purpose. Just as faith without works is dead, work without faith is lifeless and vain.
A Reminder to Parents
Psalm 127 adds, “Children are a heritage from the lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them” (vv. 3-5a).
Some of God’s greatest blessings are right under our noses, close to home. Children shouldn’t be viewed as a burden but a blessing. Even those who are not parents themselves need to appreciate children and see them as the Lord does—as a heritage and a reward, like arrows aimed at a target.
God calls us to build his kingdom, not a kingdom of our own; and we can’t build anything of eternal value without his help. America will not remain strong and fulfill the vision of our founders unless we humbly rely on divine providence. For unless the Lord builds the house—and the family, and the career, and the church, and the business, and the nation—the builders labor in vain.
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for July 1, 2012
Psalms 123, 124
1 Chronicles 1, 2
1 Chronicles 3, 4
1 Chronicles 5, 6
1 Chronicles 7—9
1 Chronicles 10, 11
1 Chronicles 12—14