Curious, really. I noticed it for the first time today. Two passages close together in Psalm 127:
Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (NKJV)
Both verses are found in a Psalm of Solomon – wisest guy ever and all that. So what are they doing together? The first verse appears just two verses ahead of the other. What’s the connection?
The first verse captures the simple fact of life in a universe sustained by a sovereign God. In the words of the great Scottish poet Bobby Burns (adjusted into modern English): “The best laid plans of mice and men are gone awry.” Proverbs puts it like this: “Man devises his way, but the Lord directs his step.” Got it. Apart from Him, we can do nothing.
So why the verse about children as a heritage from God in that context? Sure kids are a blessing – a generational blessing – that we often miss due to our short-sighted Western outlook. Especially in the West, we have forgotten the value of children to our own impending peril.
Could it be that children have a special place in God’s sovereign plan as a means of carrying out His will on earth? “Blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” Certainly God repeatedly promises children as a blessing for His people’s obedience. That could very well be the connection.
I also take a warning from these side-by-side passages, however. Unless the Lord builds my children and their faith, I labor in vain. Unless the Lord defends my kids from evil, I keep a vigilant watch for nothing. Getting up early to work hard for the family. Staying up late. None of it matters if God is not active in their hearts.
This thought brings me to the sobering realization that although I must prayerfully plant and diligently water, God must give the increase in their faith. So even parenting is ultimately and completely a walk of faith with our sovereign God.