Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 127

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Read Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.

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.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.

Editor's Note

Psalms 120-134 are known as the “Psalms of Ascent” or “Pilgrim Songs.” Every year as the Jews traveled uphill towards the city of Jerusalem to participate in one of the three Jewish festivals, these are the songs they would sing. They became a staple of the pilgrimage to Jerusalem back then and now they serve as a helpful template for us as we worship today.

Go Deeper

The opening verses of this psalm are a theological statement. They tell us something about who God is: He is powerful, and He loves us. God can, and God cares. 

Solomon, the author of this psalm, is noted as the wisest man who ever lived. His words in this psalm are reminiscent of some of his writing from the book of Ecclesiastes: Labor without faith is meaningless. Working on our own leads to frustration and futility, while trusting God leads to rest. Work itself is good. We were created to work, and God is honored by our hard work when it is submitted to Him. But we have to remember who makes our work possible and profitable. Whether building a house or defending a city, we need God.

As we learn dependence on Him for every task, He cares for us and gives us rest. Dr. Thomas Constable, a scholar and retired professor, says this about Psalm 127:“The godly need to recognize that people are never self-made. We owe all that we possess to God’s providence ultimately. Consequently, we should avoid the trap of depending totally on ourselves for all we need in life. Instead, we should trust God as we work and acknowledge His good gifts.”

In the New Testament, Paul writes frequently about boasting in God’s power and not our own. Ephesians 2:4-10 paints a clear picture of our need, God’s power, and His great love for us:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

We were dead, and He made us alive! Because of God’s great love for us, He saved us and called us to a holy life. Everything we do flows from Him. He is powerful, and He loves us. God can, and God cares. 


  1. What does this psalm teach us about the character of God? What does it teach you about the nature of work?
  2. Where have you seen the Lord’s care and provision in your life?
  3. In what areas of your life are you tempted to take control rather than trust God?

A Quote

“As Christians do the jobs and tasks assigned to them in what the world calls work, we learn to pay attention to and practice what God is doing in love and justice, in helping and healing, in liberating and cheering.” Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

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4 thoughts on “Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 127”

  1. This Psalm has been familiar to me since childhood. My parents established a strong foundation for living for Christ. They modeled “let everything in word or deed be done for the glory of God.” Growing up as a country girl there were plenty of opportunities for hard work literally from sun up to sundown. Sleep came easily, as soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out. There were 5 arrows in my parents quiver, and we learned how to stand together to honor God. It was a hard but beautiful life, one that shaped me into who I am today. It led me to a dependence on the Lord where I’ve experienced his rich mercies and provisions continually.

  2. I read that perhaps , the “children” from verses 3 and 4 could refer to an expression of God’s love birthed in our souls. (This is just a thought)
    3 God’s love in us is a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
    4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    is God’s love in us born in one’s youth.
    5 Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of God’s love.
    we will not be put to shame
    when we contend with our opponents in court.
    What I do know is that a life dedicated to the God brings satisfaction. This is why God gives us sleep and provides us with material resources. We are to take all of those blessings and pour them out to be used for His Kingdom. This is what it means to live out “presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice.”

    God thank You for Your Son as the example as the living sacrifice. Thank You God by Your mercies I can present my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto You, God, this is my spiritual worship. Thank You that You help and I trust in You to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewal of my mind, that by testing my discernment to know what is the will of You God and what is good and acceptable and perfect to Your glory in Jesus name amen.

  3. Our team @ HC is thanked often for protecting the house…we appreciate the gratitude, however, “..Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” Psalm 127:1

    We are simply seeking “…to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10


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