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Unless the Lord Builds the House...

  • Barry R. Leventhal, Ph.D. Two Becoming One
  • Updated Jun 30, 2022
Unless the Lord Builds the House...

One sign of a growing economy is the increase of building projects. And in the divine economy, the same is true. However else we may measure spiritual growth and development, especially in our marriages and families, one thing is for sure: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” That is the way the wise King Solomon put it in Psalm 127. He knew what we need to constantly bear in mind: We are totally dependent on God to build our marriages and families. Without such a total reliance upon Him, all of our marriage seminars, biblical principles, and church activities are doomed to failure. So what does this kind of total dependency on God look like? If we are to keep from “laboring in vain” in our marriages and families, how can we trust Him in all aspects of our lives? In Psalm 127, King Solomon gives us the divine blueprint for marriage and family faith. This building blueprint comprises three spiritual bricks that we must lay in building our marriage and family life of faith.

"Unless the Lord Builds the House" Meaning in Scripture

Let us always look to God's providence. In all the affairs and business of a family we must depend upon his blessing. 

  1. For raising a family. If God be not acknowledged, we have no reason to expect his blessing; and the best-laid plans fail, unless he crowns them with success. 
  2. For the safety of a family or a city. Except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen, though they neither slumber nor sleep, wake but in vain; mischief may break out, which even early discoveries may not be able to prevent. 
  3. For enriching a family. Some are so eager upon the world, that they are continually full of care, which makes their comforts bitter, and their lives a burden.

All this is to get money; but all in vain, except God prosper them: while those who love the Lord, using due diligence in their lawful callings, and casting all their care upon him, have needful success, without uneasiness or vexation. Our care must be to keep ourselves in the love of God; then we may be easy, whether we have little or much of this world. But we must use the proper means very diligently. 

Children are God's gifts, a heritage, and a reward; and are to be accounted blessings, and not burdens: he who sends mouths, will send meat, if we trust in him. They are a great support and defense to a family. Children who are young, may be directed aright to the mark, God's glory, and the service of their generation; but when they are gone into the world, they are arrows out of the hand, it is too late to direct them then. But these arrows in the hand too often prove arrows in the heart, a grief to godly parents. 

Yet, if trained according to God's word, they generally prove the best defense in declining years, remembering their obligations to their parents, and taking care of them in old age. All earthly comforts are uncertain, but the Lord will assuredly comfort and bless those who serve him; and those who seek the conversion of sinners, will find that their spiritual children are their joy and crown in the day of Jesus Christ. (commentary from Matthew Henry Psalm 127)

How to Build Your Marriage according to the Bible

1. Faith Building Brick #1: The realization that we are inadequate on our own to build our marriages and families (Psalm 127:1) “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand in guard in vain.”

Most of us think that if we can just go to more marriage seminars or learn more biblical principles, our marriages and families will thrive. But although these kinds of things are necessary, without a conscious dependence on the Lord of heaven and earth, all of our good efforts will be futile and our homes will ultimately collapse into ruins, as many current Christian marriages are now experiencing.

Along with the truths of God for marriage and family, we need to seek the Lord in dependent worship and prayer on a regular basis. For He alone can “build” and “watch over” our marriages and families. The only way that we can truly reflect God’s image in our marriages is to develop a faith relationship with Him and with each other.

2. Faith Building Brick #2: The refusal to get caught up in the typical rat race and workaholic syndrome (Psalm 127:2):

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat — for He grants sleep to those He loves.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the worldly rat race to keep getting more and more stuff: working 12-hour plus days or husbands and wives both dashing off to jobs that will keep them in a lifestyle that matches the neighbors or that will get them more things to keep the happy veneer intact.

But the awful reality is that none of these workaholic pursuits will ever give us the sustaining joy and fulfillment that God desires to freely give us. Not only does He provide for proper seasons of rest, He also provides for us while we are resting: gifts like physical and emotional recovery; spiritual renewal and vision; new and wonderful surprises for the dawning day. Is it any wonder that so many Christians are collapsing under the weight of such an enslaving lifestyle? If we are going to rein in spiritual warfare in our marriages, for the glory of God, then we are going to have to put the brakes on our rat race lifestyle and trust God to provide all that we will ever need.

3. Faith Building Brick #3: The recognition that children, when God grants them, are His gifts (Psalm 127:3-5):

“Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons 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 enemies in the gate.”

God is committed to glorifying Himself generation after generation. And when He grants us the gift of children, He will also empower us to reproduce a godly heritage for His sake. Not only are children a gift and a blessing from God to us, they are also His special disciples for the coming years, shot out like arrows against His enemies.

Questions to Ask about Building Your Marriage

In light of God’s total commitment to building your marriage and family, prayerfully consider the following questions:
1. Who are you trusting to build your marriage and family? Your parents? Your mate? Your job? Your savings or investments? Your church? Etc.? Or the Lord?
2. How much of your typical day is given over to work? To play? To rest? Where do you need to adjust your priorities and schedule in order to escape from the typical rat race?
3. If God has given you children, how do you view them? As a pain in the neck? As a nuisance? Or as God’s gifts and blessings to be launched out for Him to make an impact for the kingdom and glory of God?

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