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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Psalms 127

A Song of degrees for Solomon.

Men are prone to stop short in second causes, and trust in the power and ingenuity of the human instrument more than in God, the real author of all prosperity. Against this error this psalm is directed. The doctrine is that of James 4:13-16. Not only the title, which there is no reason to call in question, assigns it to Solomon, but the contents and spirit are in perfect coincidence with his circumstances and character. The psalm properly dates at the erection of the first temple, while it equally suits the times of rebuilding the second, and may be fitly classed among the pilgrim-songs of the nation. While it does not rise to the dignity of evangelical odes, the author, with a profound belief in the providence of God and in the obligation of subjecting ourselves and all our pursuits to him, treats directly of the religious spirit which should govern our domestic life and pursuits, and of the building up of habitations as homes. in this spirit, as fundamental to social and state life. Keeping, therefore, within the domestic-civic sphere, the psalm divides itself into two strophes home, with its labour and thrift, (Psalms 127:1-2,) and children, with their blessings on the home, (Psalms 127:3-5,) with the pervading thought that the proper acknowledgment of God, in the undertakings of life and in the rearing of the family, is the surest way of securing success.

Verse 1

1. House Here to be taken literally, as city unquestionably should be in the next member. But it is viewed in its relations to home avocations, and the rearing of the family as the ultimate objects sought. It spoils the beauty and proportions of the psalm to consider it merely in the figurative sense of family, as in Ruth 4:11. As the “house” represents and relates to the family, so does the “city,” in the next clause, represent and relate to the state. Both are comprehended in the national life, and both depend on God, without whom all labour is profitless.

Verse 2

2. Rise… early Namely, to engage in work.

Sit up late Not “sit up,” but sit down. It is not lateness in sitting down to rest at night merely, after the day’s work is done, as the antithesis might seem to require, but delaying to sit down by day as well, whether for momentary rest or for eating. See Deuteronomy 6:7; Psalms 139:2. The reproof lies, not against labour and care as such, which are made necessary by a divine decree, (Genesis 3:17-19,) and in which, as a judgment and a discipline, God takes tender sympathy with man, but against seeking the world with such absorbing care and desire as to rob the body of needful rest and the soul of quiet and meditation. Such a habit is inconsistent with dependence on God, who alone giveth prosperity. See Matthew 6:24-34.

Bread of sorrows Bread procured by bitter labours and cares. The allusion is to Genesis 3:17: “In sorrow shalt thou eat.” Excess of care should be rolled upon God: forethought and diligence belong to us, in reliance upon his guidance. 1 Peter 5:7.

So he giveth The Hebrew כן , ( ken,) is a particle of comparison so, in like manner, thus; and the sense of this obscure sentence seems to be, that in the midst of cares and labours, thus tempered by faith and patience, God giveth to his beloved sleep. Hereby health and present enjoyment are secured, with a better guaranty of ultimate success by this godly advice. Quiet and healthful sleep was considered a special mark of divine care and favour. Leviticus 26:6; Proverbs 3:24.

His beloved The Hebrew ידידו , ( jedido,) “his beloved,” is supposed to refer to the name given to Solomon at his birth, ידידיה , ( Jedidiah,) the “beloved” of Jehovah. 2 Samuel 12:25

Verse 3

3. Lo, children From dwellings, and the right ordering of our labour, the psalmist proceeds to the family.

Heritage A possession derived from a father by the law of blood relation. Children are a wealth, and the gift of God. To reverse this doctrine is a renunciation of the laws of God, both as written in Holy Scripture and implanted in our nature.

Verse 4

4. Children of the youth Children born while their parents are young. Thus Genesis 49:3, “My firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength,” distinguished from those begotten when their parents were aged.

Genesis 37:3

Verse 5

5. Quiver full of them The figure is elliptical. The idea is, that of protection, vindication. As the warrior is safe able to defend himself with his quiver full of arrows, so the parent with numerous children.

They shall… speak with the enemies in the gate The language here is forensic. The “gate” was the place of judgment, (Deuteronomy 21:19,) and to “speak with” adversaries “in the gate,” was to conduct the suit, and to overcome them. Compare Proverbs 27:11. The same word rendered “speak,” in the text, means destroyed in 2 Chronicles 22:10, and subdue in Psalms 18:47; Psalms 47:3. Such a man “need not fear lest he should be put to shame that is, lose his cause; his stalwart sons would not suffer might to prevail against right.” Perowne. Not… ashamed, is equal to having abundant proof to meet the allegation, and to overcome.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 127". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-127.html. 1874-1909.