Unless The Lord Builds the House

Text: Psalm 127:1-5

“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 127:1

What do you do when you have reached your limits? What about when you realize you don’t have what it takes to fix a problem, to settle a dispute, to restore something that is broken, or to achieve the next level of success? Though not necessarily directly against us, we realize there are so many things beyond our control and also so many forces that still resist our efforts. The good news is that we find peace and strength in taking it to the Lord.

The crowning achievement of Solomon’s life was building the temple—the house of God in Jerusalem—and in Psalm 127, this poster child for wisdom reminds us that it is foolish to undertake any venture that leaves the Lord out of it. Whenever we leave the Lord out of our labor, we sabotage our own endeavors and undermine our own hard work.

God is the source of success in whatever we seek to do and all of our efforts are in vain without Him. Jesus alluded to this principle when He said, “I only do what I see the Father doing” (John 5:19). He also spoke to his followers saying: “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

This is so true. Time and time again, I look at things and I am amazed at how they come together with no other explanation than “only God.” Only God moments come from giving God all of our effort through blood, sweat, and toil, and then resting with all of our trust that He will bring everything to fruition for His glory and our good.

Obviously, those who build a house must labor on it, and the watchman of a city must stay awake in responsible fashion. At the same time, they must carry out their efforts in faith—trusting God to make the work prosperous. Wisdom promotes diligence but clarifies that diligence is neither greed nor restless anxiety (Proverbs 10:22; 23:4–5). Diligence is the act of working with all that is in us because our faith and trust is in the notion that God does use our efforts to contribute to outcomes only He can establish—things that are bigger than our abilities and beyond our control. Thus, God gave us the Sabbath commandment (Exodus 20:8–11) as a gift to enable us to live by faith and trust Him for His sufficiency in all of our hard work and with all of our inadequacies.

There is a line in a hymn that says, “O what peace we often forfeit; O what needless pains we bear; all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” It is wise to make sure our focus is on the Lord, resting in the One who is able to give us the ability to have joy, peace, contentment, fruitfulness, and favorable outcomes in all of our endeavors. We don’t need to be in control of outcomes when the One Who established the universe is the contractor and interior designer of “the house” in which we labor. He is the Master Builder, beloved. Take comfort in that as you seek to abide in Him this week.


God, thank you for the strength you give when we are feeling weak, insufficient, and inadequate. Unless you build the house we labor in vain. I trust you to finish everything that you have started in my life—bringing it to fruition for your glory and my good. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Questions for Reflection, Small Group or Family Discussion:

  1. When have you built something you were most proud of?
  2. Think of a situation where you worked hard to achieve something but it wasn’t working out the way you hoped, despite your best efforts. How did you feel about yourself and God during that time?
  3. What are some of the “only God” moments you have witnessed lately?
  4. Is there any restless anxiety that you need to bring to God in this hour?
  5. In what specific area of your life could you depend more on the Lord and less on confidence in your own abilities?

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