This sermon is part of The Pslams of Ascent as we work through Psalms 120-134 using Rev. Eugene Peterson’ book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction as our guide. As with all of the sermons here on my site, I post this and all of them for the glory of God with complete permission for you to use them as the Lord leads you. You may deliver any of them as they are, alter them, or pull parts from them. No citing of sources is necessary. Praying for blessings upon your calling.
A week or two ago I said I have been saying I do not see a way out of our current situation. How does a nation this big and this free and this self sufficient and this independent, how can this country turn back to God? How does our country recover from the current vitriol? As a country we have moved so far away from God.
How do we battle the author of confusion when he has confused the masses who now call bad good and good bad?
I came to the conclusion that it will take an act of God.
Psalm 127 is a reminder that any time we do anything without God it is pointless.
The second part of the Psalm is a conundrum to me. John Piper said it is describing how we do the first part of the Psalm – the building of the household out of the union of the couple. The first part of the Psalm being the union of us with God, the second part being the union of a man and woman. Piper’s words – making kids does not even seem like work. I am not going to focus any more on the second part of Psalm 127 because I can not.
But I have a lot to say about the first part, so let’s get started –
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
We begin the Psalm with “a God saturated view of life.”
If God is not a part of whatever we do, it is in vain.
With a God saturated view of life, we see life in light of God.
The secular world sees God in light of life experiences.
Do you understand what I am saying? The Psalmist sees living life – building, watching, resting, working…. all of life is seen through the lens of a God who loves us and whom we can trust.
We wouls say something like: If God allowed it to come to me, so be it.
We live in a society that projects on to God the traits and characteristics that fit our society. When the teachings of God disagree with our world views, God is old fashioned and wrong and we go with the wisdom of the world. Solomon wrote this Psalm and he knew something about doing things in vain – In Ecclesiastes he writes “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. What does it profit us to toil under the sun?” Max Lucado said Solomon got to the top of the ladder and realized he had climbed the wrong building.
There was a day when Billy Graham would preach sermons and say, “The Bible says…” and people would reevaluate their lives. Today when a preacher says, “The Bible says…” people reevaluate the Bible. Society has no problem with lukewarm Christianity. But when we proclaim what the Bible says and we believe it, society will sometimes attack us for it.
Dianne Feinstein told Amy Coning Barrett about her faith in 2017 when interviewing her for the post she currently serves: “the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.” Because the secular society is right Feinstein insinuates. If this is what the world has decided, God must be wrong. Psalm 127 says you can build and watch over… but it’s pointless. America has built the greatest country in the world, but apart from God, or when our country parts from God, it is in vain. We are doing what is right in our own eyes. And this coronavirus has created a whole bunch of mini kings over mini kingdoms, governors taking authority they do not have.
I want to go to a story from 1 Samuel chapter 13 – The Israelites wanted a king to rule over them like other countries had. God had been their king forever. Israel had never had a king.
Samuel talked to God about their request. God wanted to continue be their king, but they were rejecting Him as king. God told Samuel to warn the people of what the new king would do. He shared how the king would make the sons and daughters serve in armies and do all the things kings do. Samuel told the people of the consequences of this decision. The people did not listen and demanded a king. God relented, as He often does and showed Samuel the man who would be king. It is not that God could not have done whatever He wanted, but he relented.
I read something this week from an atheist who said he could never understand how Christians say our country has “driven God out of the schools”. If God was God, how could people overpower Him – How could our will win out over His. That is a man who does not understand that God often relents and gives us our way even though it is not what He desires. God gave the Israelites what they wanted. When they voted prayer out of public schools, God gave us what we wanted. I understand not everyone wanted it. When they passed Roe vs Wade and allowed abortion, God gave the country what they wanted. When God lets us have what we want when it contradicts what He wants, that’s the kind of God He is. He has given us the freedom to choose. Go read Romans chapter 1 – Paul says God let people have their way with the lusts of their hearts. God let people have their vile passions. God gave them over to a warped mind – he let our earthly wisdom take over our ways, And it is all in vain according to Psalm 127…but I digress – let’s get back to Israel and their king…
His name was Saul. He was a very tall man. At first, Saul was a good king. He trusted God and followed Him. Later, He began to be prideful and forgot God.
There was a group of evil people who were the enemies of God’s people. They were
called the Philistines. These are the same people who tortured Samson. One famous Philistine was Goliath. We will read about him in a few weeks.
As long as Samuel was the leader, God helped the people win their battles with the
When Saul became king, he gathered many men to fight the Philistines. The Philistines
also had many warriors. Before every battle, Samuel would have a special time to pray and ask God for help.
In 1 Sam 10:8, Samuel told Saul to gather the troops and wait 7 days for him and he would come and make burnt offerings and a peace offering.
Saul waited 7 days for Samuel to come. On the 7th day, Saul became impatient.
He was tired of waiting and wanted to fight. His people were getting jittery, they were beginning to scatter. Saul decided to lead the special time of prayer himself instead of waiting for Samuel. You should know the whole thing took about an hour and naturally, just as they finished, Samuel arrived. He asked, “What have you done?”
When Saul offered the burnt offering, it wasn’t a spiritual event; it was his “lucky charm.” He wasn’t doing it because of a deep yearning to connect with God, but as a way to make himself and the others around him feel better, and perhaps so that Saul would look better in the eyes of others.
Got to thinking about why I do things.
If I’m not careful, it could become a show for others rather than to bring glory to God.
All our actions, no matter how well intentioned, are better if we do them to bring glory to God. More than that – Psalm 127 points out that they are in vanity if the Lord is not involved.
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” Abraham Lincoln
Israel erred when it drifted, then departed, and finally fought against the ways of God. America has also turned away from the God of salvation as a drift, then a departure, and now finally fights against His ways. What is evil we now call good. We profane the sacred and worship the profane. The city on a hill has grown dark. We indoctrinate our children against the ways of God. It is for such things that a judgment falls upon a nation. A remnant pleads for revival. Without repentance there can be no revival. We stand at a crossroads today. Without revival America is lost. ~ Jonathan Cahn
The NIBC – “We must make war on secularism, the great and pervasive enemy of our times, secularism in our hearts and everywhere in our modern society. This is far more vital than most matters discussed by our mentors, even in the most select of universities. It is the crying need of our time. Without it we can make no headway. Secular solutions are no solutions.”
Max Lucado – There is a great dissatisfaction across the land. Hand after hand reaching out to quench thirsts and scratch itches. But the thirst lingers and the itch remains.
Solomon could have written these words.
“The conviction of the psalm is this: If only the nations and families could recover that dependence upon God which creates a sturdy independence before men, we would discover the secret of peace, contentment, reconstructions, and true progress.”
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
2 When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in ev’ry high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil. [Refrain]
3 His oath, his covenant, his blood
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay. [Refrain]
4 When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne. [Refrain]
Work and pray, pray and work. Ora et Labora. Work like it is up to you – pray like it is up to God.