Question: Will you please comment on Psalm 127:2 and does it bear any relation or have any connection with the verse preceding it or the verses which follow?
Answer: First I will insert the full text of Psalm 127:2. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” This seems to me to have a direct connection with verse one which says, “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.” The Holy Scriptures abound with many strong references to the power, strength and ability to help us in our undertakings which are worthy undertakings and also the feebleness and fruitlessness of human efforts to accomplish anything when men leave Him out of their plans and projects and undertake them on their own. What is said here about the laborer building the house and the watchman protecting the city and all the efforts being in vain except the Lord is an active Participant in it is also true of all other areas of life. These two verses taken together just confirm how utterly vain and ineffectual all purely human efforts are to accomplish their desired end when the Lord is left out and Divine aid is lacking. The obtaining of any desired, worthwhile objective cannot be realized. All this is true in all areas of life but especially in the spiritual life and the work of God.
I Corinthians 3:9 says, “For we are labourers together with God:…” II Corinthians 6:1 says, “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.” The last part of Philippians 2:12 says, “…Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” and verse 13 says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” These verses, and especially the last two (Philippians 2:12-13), confirm that our own personal salvation is a cooperative work between our soul and God. We work out our own salvation by humbly submitting ourselves to God and permitting Him to work out His will and His works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure. Try as we will to work out our own salvation, grow in grace, and increase in the divine virtues and graces of God within ourselves and by our own means and efforts without the inspiration of His Spirit, and we will make no progress. Jesus said, “…Without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5.) But, praise God, Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13.) Again Paul said, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.” (II Corinthians 3:5.) Still again he said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:10.) And yet again Paul said, “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me,…” (Romans 15:18.)
In our text (Psalm 127:1-2) we have the case of a laborer building a house and a watchman on the wall protecting the city and they rise up early and stay up late and just work, work, work, work, until they are exhausted, but the text says it is all in vain if the Lord is not in it and directing the operation. Verse 2 mentions them rising up early and staying up late to eat the bread of sorrows. Even so it is with people who try and try and work, work, work to improve their spiritual stature and grow in graces in their lives without the aid of the Spirit of God working within them and enlightening and guiding them; they eat the bread of sorrow and disappointment because of their failure to gain their desired objective. But it can never be obtained no matter how hard one may work at it without the aid of the Divine Spirit working within us to enlighten and guide us.
Now let us look at the last thing said in Psalm 127:2. It is indeed marvelous and glorious “…For so he giveth his beloved sleep.” Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29.) Peter said, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (I Peter 5:7.) God’s Word says again, “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22.) Again we read in Psalm 37:5, “Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Oh, dear soul, how exceeding great and precious these promises are to the troubled soul. When we can learn the full impact of these great promises and learn to trust in God with all our cares and burdens and commit our way to God and cast all of our cares upon Him and feel safe and secure with all our cares, burdens, and anxieties as well as ourselves in His hands and under His loving care; then we shall learn and know the peace, calm and rest that salvation brings and then shall He be able to give his beloved sleep.
What a contrast this is to all that strain and stress; getting up early and staying up late in order to have a longer day to worry in and battle with our anxieties in and eating the bread of sorrow because things are not working out like we want them to. But such is the sad lot of all who attempt to bear their own burdens, solve their own problems and choose out their own courses in life. They are appointed unto sorrow and disappointment.