Psalms 127 :1

Psalms 127 :1 Translations

King James Version (KJV)

Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.

American King James Version (AKJV)

Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.

American Standard Version (ASV)

Except Jehovah build the house, They labor in vain that build it: Except Jehovah keep the city, The watchman waketh but in vain.

Basic English Translation (BBE)

<A Song of the going up. Of Solomon.> If the Lord is not helping the builders, then the building of a house is to no purpose: if the Lord does not keep the town, the watchman keeps his watch for nothing.

Webster's Revision

A Song of degrees for Solomon. Except the LORD shall build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD shall keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain.

World English Bible

Unless Yahweh builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Unless Yahweh watches over the city, the watchman guards it in vain.

English Revised Version (ERV)

A Song of Ascents; of Solomon. Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

Definitions for Psalms 127 :1

Vain - Empty; foolish; useless.

Clarke's Commentary on Psalms 127 :1

Except the Lord build the house - To build a house is taken in three different senses in the sacred writings.

1. To build the temple of the Lord, which was called הבית habbeith, the house, by way of eminence.

2. To build any ordinary house, or place of dwelling.

3. To have a numerous offspring.

In this sense it is supposed to be spoken concerning the Egyptian midwives; that because they feared the Lord, therefore he built them houses. See the note on Exodus 1:21. But, however, the above passage may be interpreted, it is a fact that b ben, a son, and tb bath, a daughter, and tyb beith, a house, come from the same root hnb banah, to build; because sons and daughters build up a household, or constitute a family, as much and as really as stones and timber constitute a building. Now it is true that unless the good hand of God be upon us we cannot prosperously build a place of worship for his name. Unless we have his blessing, a dwelling-house cannot be comfortably erected. And if his blessing be not on our children, the house (the family) may be built up, but instead of its being the house of God, it will be the synagogue of Satan. All marriages that are not under God's blessing will be a private and public curse. This we see every day.

Except the Lord keep the city - When the returned Jews began to restore the walls of Jerusalem, and rebuild the city, Sanballat, Tobiah, and others formed plots to prevent it. Nehemiah, being informed of this, set up proper watches and guards. The enemy, finding this, gathered themselves together, and determined to fall upon them at once, and cut them all off. Nehemiah, having gained intelligence of this also, armed his people, and placed them behind the wall. Sanballat and his company, finding that the Jews were prepared for resistance, abandoned their project; and Nehemiah, to prevent surprises of this kind, kept one-half of the people always under arms, while the other half was employed in the work. To this the psalmist alludes; and in effect says, Though you should watch constantly, guard every place, and keep on your armor ready to repel every attack, yet remember the success of all depends upon the presence and blessing of God. While, therefore, ye are not slothful in business, be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; for there is no success either in spiritual or secular undertakings but in consequence of the benediction of the Almighty.

Barnes's Commentary on Psalms 127 :1

Except the Lord build the house - Or rather, "a house." The word "house" may refer either to an ordinary dwelling; to the temple, as a place of worship; or to a family, with reference to its success and prosperity, as the word house is often used now. The statement is universal, and is designed to indicate a universal dependence on God in human undertakings, though it is not improbable that there may have been an allusion, when the psalm was composed, to some building which was contemplated or commenced. If the psalm was a composition of David or Solomon, the allusion way have been to the temple about to be erected. The language, however, is so general as to be applicable to any enterprise of that kind.

They labor in vain that build it - literally, "In vain toil its builders in it." The idea is, that they are entirely dependent on God. No matter what their skill, their strength, their industry may be - all will be in vain unless God shall assist them. They are dependent on Him for life, for health, for strength, for practical wisdom, for a disposition to continue their work, and for success in it. Their work might be destroyed by fire, by a tempest, by an earthquake, or by an irruption of enemies; and for the result, therefore, they are entirely dependent on God.

Except the Lord keep the city - The same idea of dependence is here repeated in another form. The preservation of a city depends wholly on God, whatever care or precaution may be used.

The watchman waketh but in vain - literally, "In vain waketh the keeper." The word rendered waketh means to be sleepless; and then, to watch. The allusion is to the watch or guard appointed to keep a city, and the idea is, that, whatever may be the diligence, the care, the fidelity of one thus appointed to guard a city, its safe-keeping must depend on God alone. Fires may break out in spite of the watchmen; a tempest may sweep over it; bands of armed people may assail it; or the pestilence may suddenly come into it, and spread desolation through its dwellings. There may have been an allusion in this to some immediate arrangement for guarding Jerusalem when the psalm was composed; but the remark is so general that it is not necessary to confine it to that. It is universally true that, after all the care for their own preservation which people can employ, their safety depends wholly on God.

Wesley's Commentary on Psalms 127 :1

127:1 Build - Assist and bless those that build it.
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