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Psalms 127:1

Psalm 127 1 

A song of ascents, 2  by Solomon.

127:1 If the Lord does not build a house, 3 

then those who build it work in vain.

If the Lord does not guard a city, 4 

then the watchman stands guard in vain.

1 sn Psalm 127. In this wisdom psalm the psalmist teaches that one does not find security by one’s own efforts, for God alone gives stability and security.

2 sn The precise significance of this title, which appears in Pss 120-134, is unclear. Perhaps worshipers recited these psalms when they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals. For a discussion of their background see L. C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC), 219-21.

3 sn The expression build a house may have a double meaning here. It may refer on the surface level to a literal physical structure in which a family lives, but at a deeper, metaphorical level it refers to building, perpetuating, and maintaining a family line. See Deut 25:9; Ruth 4:11; 1 Sam 2:35; 2 Sam 7:27; 1 Kgs 11:38; 1 Chr 17:10, 25. Having a family line provided security in ancient Israel.

4 sn The city symbolizes community security, which is the necessary framework for family security.

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