The Work of the Lord

David Bast

Read: Psalm 127

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. (v. 1)

Nisi Dominus frustra is an old motto of the Reformed Church: “without the Lord, all is in vain.” It’s the main point of Psalm 127. Unless God is working in us, with us, and through us, all our efforts at building his kingdom will end in failure and futility. As Jesus would later say, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

OK, got it. But what does this have to do with having lots of children? Well, imagine what life was like in the psalmist’s day. No insurance companies, no pension plans, no social services, no welfare programs, no police forces or fire departments. The only thing standing between you and ruin was your family. So you had better have children when you’re young, so that when you are old, they will have grown into adults who can provide for and protect you.

Also, God uses us to do his work. Yes, the Lord has to build the house and keep watch over the city, but he does that through our efforts! It’s true that without him nothing we do matters, but it’s not true that we need to do nothing. So remember the flip side: with the Lord, nothing we do is in vain. “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). —David Bast

As you pray, ask God to show you what work he has for you to do for his kingdom.