Psalm 127

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-04-17 11:33.

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The superscription links this psalm to Solomon. As a “song of ascents,” it may have been sung while worshipers were going up to the temple in Jerusalem.

The psalmist recognized that without YHWH’s blessing there can be no real or lasting success. War, another unforeseen event, or an untimely death may make it impossible for the home’s owner to enjoy it. So, from the standpoint of the psalmist, without YHWH’s part in the building, the builders would labor in vain or for nothing. Likewise, without YHWH’s watching or guarding a city, the watchman, though remaining awake or alert, would be manning his post in vain.

YHWH’s blessing would also be needed when conducting the daily affairs of life. People may be very industrious, rising early in the morning and work many hours before going to bed late at night. Still, this could all be in vain, for they may find themselves eating “bread of pains,” that is, food obtained through tiring and exhausting labors that greatly diminish the enjoyment of life.

To the one whom YHWH approves or his “beloved one,” however, he grants sleep. His “beloved one” can enjoy his rest. He is at peace, possessing an inner calm. Confident of YHWH’s concern and care, he does not worry needlessly. As a conscientious worker, he has the assurance that his reasonable efforts, accompanied by YHWH’s blessing, will enable him to obtain life’s necessities.

Although daughters were loved and valued, the psalmist focused on sons. This is because, in the then-existing culture, males filled a more important role in the defense of the family. The psalmist referred to sons as an inheritance from YHWH, and the fruit of the womb as a reward. Sons are likened to arrows in the hand of a warrior, arrows that can be used for defensive purposes. Sons whom a man fathered while young can, in later life, come to his defense. Therefore, they are likened to arrows in his quiver, and the man with numerous sons is pronounced “fortunate.” In a legal controversy at the city gates where elders functioned as judges, his sons would not be ashamed or disgraced when courageously supporting him against his enemies or antagonists.

Notes:

Instead of “youth” (ne‘orím), the Septuagint uses a form of ektinásso, meaning “shake out” or “shake off.” This is evidently because the Hebrew verb (na‘ár) does have that meaning, whereas the noun ná‘ar designates a youth or young man.

Where the Masoretic Text reads “quiver,” the Septuagint says “desire,” as does the Vulgate.

See Psalm 1 regarding YHWH and the Hebrew and Greek terms for “fortunate.”