Sermon – Grand designs (Psalms 127:1 – 127:5) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Psalms: Songs of Ascent

This series takes us through the last few Psalms in the Bible, called the ‘Songs of Ascent’. They focus on the Psalmist crying out to the Lord in their distress, and also worshipping Him as they are helped & delivered by God.

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Sermon 4 of 14

Grand designs

Geraint Davies, Psalms 127:1 - 127:5, 23 April 2023

Geraint continues our series in the last few Psalms of the Bible, the ‘Songs of Ascent’, preaching to us from 127:1-5. In this psalm we see the psalmist reflecting on the importance of God’s position in our lives, the value of children, and what it all means for us today.

Psalms 127:1 - 127:5

127:1   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.
  Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
  Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
  He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.


Transcript (Auto-generated)

This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

Psalm 127, a song of a sense, of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders' labor and vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, The guards stand watch in vain. In vain, you rise early and stay up late. Toiling for food to eat. Free grant sleep to those he loves.

Children are heritage from the lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are children born in one's youth. Blessing is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court. Evening.

Yes. So my name is Geraint. I'm 1 of the members here at Cornerstone. I serve on the youth team, and I'm excited to be bring us God's word this evening. But we do need his help So would you join me in praying now?

Have any farther we do thank you for this this time that you are so faithful to us each each Sunday, that you protect that we come and we we gather and that we can hear from your word. Help us now, would you, father, to quiet those thoughts that are thinking about tomorrow, thinking about the emails that we have to answer, thinking about the jobs that we have to do. Would you calmer hearts, calmers from the destructions, and would we would we be able to concentrate on your word, would be able to look upon the lord Jesus Christ. And father God, would you be glorified this evening? We pray in Jesus name.

Oh man. If you notice in your passage in the Psalm there, you see Psalm 127. And beneath that, you've got a song of a scent. So we're still in the song of a scent. We're still on our ways.

The Jews are on their way up to Jerusalem. But here, you've got the added note, a song of a sense of Solomon. We've had a few so far from David, Here is the only 1 that is a credit to Solomon. And it's quite interesting when some of the commentators think Solomon wrote this Psalm. A lot of the commentators suggest that this Psalm would have been written around the time of him taking over the throne from David.

We see some evidence for that in the fact that the responsibilities for the building in verse 1 I mentioned, the guardianship of the city and the kingdom, again, the second half of this 1 there. And no doubt knowing known Solomon. He already had a few children. So the second half of of the Psalm, the children there being heritage from the Lord, is is fairly evident that that this is around the time where Solomon took over from David. And Solomon saw these words as incredibly practical.

As he took on the role of king, a role that he knew to be greater than than he was, he felt the weight of that. He turns to these words. And we're going to look at these words. We're going to look at this sum in 2 parts this evening. The first part, this is 1 to 2.

As it's possibly split in your bibles, we'll look at Grand Designs and a great builder. So Grand Designs and a great builder. And the second part, we'll look at, this is 3 to 5, the birth of an arrow. So Grand Designs. And remember that program, Grand Designs, you know, the the 1 where someone's built a moat around their house or the the roof opens up on itself You know, when Kevin McCloud invites the whole country in to look at your house, doesn't he?

And it was it was a really exciting program to watch and you'd see them building this house and inevitably something horrific would go wrong, but nevertheless, it was quite fun to watch. And the passage here is asking the question of of what are you building. It's possibly not a house, you know, with a car park and the rest of that. But we're all building. We're all striving towards something.

We all work. We all tile. For something. What are you building for? What are you striving for?

What are you tiling for? What is the house that you are building. Here in the passage, we discover that I I don't know if any of you had Sunday school teachers who who said to you, the Bible is as up to date as tomorrow's newspaper. I remember the first time First time someone said that to me, I thought absolutely not. Because tomorrow's newspaper will be somewhat exciting because I'll turn to the middle and I'll do a Sudoku.

And it's not as up to date as tomorrow's newspaper because it never mentions when Rudy and when Rudy always seemed to be in trouble when I was a youngster. Always seem to be on the back page of the newspaper. But it's incredibly true, in actual fact, This song is as up to date as tomorrow's newspaper because we see in this song, we see that the Jews are singing about on their way to Jerusalem. They're writing their poetry and they're singing about it versus 3 survivors. They're writing about family life.

We see that throughout our newspapers. They're writing about the issues of security versus the second half of this 1. They're writing their poetry about investments, building projects, and new building starts, the remodeling of your home. This 1. And 1 that I'm sure we're all very aware of or acutely aware of at the moment.

They're writing their poetry, they're singing this song on the way up to Jerusalem about trying to provide for food about that struggle. That's in the newspapers all the time. Everything that you'll find in tomorrow's newspapers as you flick through is intensely practical this. So, first 1, Unless the lord builds the house, those who build it, labor in vain, unless the lord builds the house, those who build it, labor in vain. Ask the question, what are you building?

What house are you building? Perhaps it's a career. Perhaps you're working and you're tiling and you're struggling for your career. You've got this 5 10 year plan Maybe you've been to see PIM. And you know exactly what life is going to look like and what you need to do in order to achieve your 5 to 10 year plan.

You know the salary that you want and you know the security that that salary will bring to you and to your family. Maybe that's the house that you're building. Are you building it alone? Is it in vain? Is the laws involved in your in your building work?

Perhaps it's not career for you. Perhaps it's it's simply your building stability. You know, you've it's just you and the kids at home now. You've had years years of hardship. Maybe the husband's gone and you clock in 9 to 5 every day.

You pick up the children from after school club just so you can get that Couple of hours extra of working. And you're trying to knuckle down and work hard so you can provide So you can tile enough and you can work hard enough to build stability within your own life. Are you doing this building work with the lord? Is the lord involved in your building work? What what house are you building now.

I'm not saying in any way shape or form. We shouldn't build. We shouldn't be working towards something. That's not what I'm saying. But what I'm saying is that the lord should be involved in our building work.

Unless the lord builds the house, Those who labor those who build it, labor in vain. Brothers and sisters, we are called to be builders. We're not called to do this independently. We're called to do this with God. You know, could you turn to your your neighbor this evening, your brother and his sister?

Could you tell them what you're toiling toiling towards? Maybe that's a good litmus test as to whether or not you're building for God's glory. Or for your own glory. Are you building for him? Because God is the ultimate builder.

What's brilliant about when you're building with guards is that he doesn't start projects and then put them down. I do. My gym memberships tell you that, every January, not every January have given up. But January swings around, you make a new commitment February swings around, commitment's gone, isn't it? You're building projects out the window.

But it's not so with God. God brings to fulfillment, every building project that he starts. He started a building project back back in the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned, when Adam and Eve sinned and ate the fruit of the tree, God talks to the serpent and says in Genesis 3 15, and I will put enmity between you and the woman. And between your offspring and his, he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.

He will crush your head and you will strike his heel. God has brought this to fulfillment when he sent Christ to this earth. Christ came to this as thousands of years after the announcement of this building project. He will crush your head He came and he lived a perfect life. He walked the streets.

He ate and he drank and he laughed. With his friends, with his disciples, and others who he invited in to be a part of his building work. Christ gave of himself day after day preaching a message of repentance to turn and believe the good news, turn from your sinful desires and to believe in the son of God. Christ who healed the sick who gave sight to the blind. Christ who was beaten mock Christ who took this silently.

Christ who carried the wooden cross up on his back to golgotha. And Christ who cried out my God. My God. Why have you forsaken me? Christ who was forsaken so that our god would bring his building work to fulfillment as Christ crushed the head of the serpent.

As Christ died and conquered death, 3 days later, he would rise again and appear to Mary Magdalena. God brings to fulfillment, every building job that he starts. So with god, no building work is pointless when you are building for the kingdom of god. To what are you building? How are you building towards the furtherment of his kingdom?

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. There's a there's a great contrast in Psalm 127 between the dependence upon guards. And independence from God. Now that's that's sort of the difference between the believer and the the unbeliever in 1 sense.

Men and women without Christ are independent of God. They're they're without God and without any hope in this world. It doesn't mean that they can go they can't go about their projects. It doesn't mean that they can't be incredibly successful. We see many, many, many people who are independent of gods who don't depend on him, who are incredibly incredibly successful.

But what the SARS says here, what Solomon is saying here, is that their efforts, their projects, their building ultimately is in vain. It's pointless. It's futile. Another rocket will blow up. It's pointless.

Yet, you might be able to park your boat in the British Virgin Islands, and brilliant. I've got a hundred and 50 massive boats. And then a bigger boat comes by. There's always going to be a bigger boat. There's always going to be a bigger boat.

I'm I'm an Arsenal fan. I'm hoping that Arsenal win the league. Liverpool won the league a couple of years ago in 20 20. Their fans were hoping that would happen for years and years and years and you've got a club building towards that. Who remembers that?

Who cares that Liverpool won the league? Nobody. Did you hear that, Gareth? Thank Gareth. Nobody cares.

Yeah, Arsenal didn't play well this week, and I think the league's over, but that's not why I'm saying it. It's the same thing with oh, who's that? Johnny Wilkinson. Johnny Wilkinson, he he built and built towards a career for rugby. He won the World Cup with England.

He not only won the World Cup, he scored the drop goal in the last minute to win the World Cup. And he says, within hours of that happening, I was spiraling out of control. Within hours of that happening, he'd reached fulfillment surely. He'd built and built and built and built. He's there.

But no. He'd labored in vain. He labored without god. And at the top of his ladder that he propped up, he found it to be empty, found it to be pointless. He founded to be no rest, no satisfaction, no no fulfillment.

Which is in stark contrast to what God God promises for his beloved. Look at this too. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest. Eating the bread of anxious tile for he gives to his beloved sleep. He gives to his beloved sleep.

It's not that your projects will will fail, but it is that ultimately without god, your projects are futile it, pointless. The the Beatles have a song I'm I'm not massively 1 for for music, so this is a shock for anyone who knows me well. But the Beatles have a song. They have more than 1 song actually. But they have a song called She's Leaving Home.

We're going to listen to it. We're going to listen up to the the first chorus. As we listen, I want you to notice the man who is building independently of God. In the song, we've got a classic sort of juxtaposition of the teenage youngsters, craving the attention, craving love, the affection, the interest affirmation of her father. And the father who's propped his own ladder up who is working and working and working and working and working independently of God in order to give his teenage daughter what he has decided she needs.

As we listen, I want you to hear the refrain that the father needs to hear throughout the song. Unless the Lord builds the house, those the labors builder they're builders' labor in vain, if we play that. Got a really interesting chorus there. You've got the father and the and the mother's voice We gave her everything. We propped up our ladder.

We've worked hard. This is our hope. She's leaving her. She's leaving her. Selling the story there through the song, of a father who had built the house.

He'd worked and tiled for his daughter. But his tiling was was futile. His work was futile. And we can tell that it's futile because in that song, there is no rest for the father. There is no rest for him.

He works and works and works and works for years for what he has said will be that ladder. What he has said will be his home that he's working towards. Oh, just a few more hours. Maybe I can put a new liquor paint on my building. New carpets.

Are the winds blowing the fence over. I need to put that back up. The father has no rest he's working and working and working on and on he goes. And the work may never be enough. It's not enough in that song.

But if like for Johnny Wilkinson, the work is enough, you find that that the building doesn't satisfy. The top of the ladder does not satisfy. He has no rest. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious tile for he gives to his beloved sleep. He gives to his beloved sleep.

There is only 1 place. This father does not have rest. There's only 1 place that we can find rest. For he grants sleep to those he loves. There's an echo here of of Christ's words in Matthew.

Come to me all who are weary and burdened or heavy laden, and I will give you rest. The world can't promise what Christ promises. Christ promises rest. Come to me, all who are weary and bold and I will give you rest. The father grants sleep to those he loves the world can't promise rest.

Do you find yourself working and working and working and building and building a building that never seems to get finished? A work that never seems to get done, a work that never has a rest at the end of it, rising up early, independent from God. Or are you a builder who's going to be totally totally dependent on god. Dependent on the master builder. The master builder who has the blueprints to every project To be this dependent builder is to be a builder who can find rest in Christ because he's building for Christ.

To be a dependent builder is to be a builder who can find rest in Christ because he is building for Christ. For he grants sleep to those he loves. And Christ says come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Go to him. And find rest in the master builder.

The last way I want to illustrate this here is story that I I hope is familiar to lots of us found in Genesis 11, the story of the Tower of Babble. Where what we've got going on there, that part of it, we know fairly well. Those of us who know the story. We know that man has decided they are going to build a tower. Why?

You're going to build a huge tower and it's going to go up to the heavens and it is going to be a symbol of man's achievement independent of god. And what happens? Well, the building work doesn't get finished because the lord wasn't involved. The building work was in vain because the lord wasn't involved. And that's what you've got going on in Genesis 11.

But simultaneously in Genesis 11, It ends with this little biographical note, and it says that terah became the father of Abraham. Now haran. And so there in Genesis 11, whilst humanity, whilst man is laboring in vain, not consulting the master builder. The master builder is involved in the birth of a child. God is at work in the birth of a baby.

God isn't work in the birth of Abraham. And with that, we move to the second half of the sum to the birth of an arrow. Look at those 3 to 5. Behold. Children are a heritage from the lord.

The fruits of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is a man who fills his quiver with them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate. Some of us may be very, very familiar with these words, especially, I mean, I was incredibly shocked this morning when I got to church and found nowhere to sit because I totally forgotten it was dedications.

But some of us with the context of this dedications, we may have written cards children are heritage from the lord. These are words that are familiar to us. Children are heritage from the lord, But let's not let our familiarity with it, Dalit's impact. It's saying that they are gifts Children are gifts from the lord. A gift from the lords.

Little looking around us tonight. We we know that there are pregnant people around us. They're gifts from the lord's amazing. Think Ben it does pregnant anyway. But the problem with with children is they're sort of like a gift.

You know, you get those gifts where it comes with an instruction manual. It's not just you put the candle here, but you have to do something with it. Whenever I get a gift like that, it goes straight into next year's secret center at work. Straight there. If you can make if you can make it stand up or do what it's supposed to do then brilliant.

But if you can't, you haven't given me a gift. You've given me a responsibility. Okay. I suppose you could call it No. He'd given me responsibility.

And and that is like that with the gift God has given us. You know, has he given you the the ability to sing? What are you going to do with the gift God has given you? Are you going to sing to his praise? Are you going to with a gift of help, are you going to be a help to others?

Or are you just going to help yourself? Perhaps he's given you the gift of of leadership. Are you going to lead God's people in wisdom? It's a responsibility to have these gifts because you're going to be held accountable for the gift you've been given. Maybe he's given you a son or a daughter And at this point, you're thinking, I hope this comes with an instruction manual.

Give it here. They're a responsibility, but they are a gift. What gifts has God given to you that you can use for the building of his church? Maybe maybe the gift of singing, maybe leadership. It's wonderful.

It's wonderful how countercultural this passage is to how our culture talks about children and about having children. It says that they are a gift. They are heritage from the from the Lord. I googled reasons why you shouldn't have children. Rates don't panic.

Did it just for this? And all of these reasons that I'm about to say are apparently scientifically backed, but but I I didn't bother reading the articles, of course, no. I just wanted the bullet points. But all of these had an article attached to them. So here they are.

Kids are bad for your romantic relationship. They interfere with that. Don't have them. Kids costs a lot of money. Kids are terrible for the environment.

More children, more waste. Children can hit your potential earning, especially for women. Children interfere with your body's capacity to not take on extra weight. Have children, gain weight. They're a drag on your social life.

Kids will kill your me time. Such selfish reasons that the bible is so incredibly positive about having children. They are the lord's heritage. As someone who who works with children and someone who hopes to to have children of his own 1 day, I totally totally agree with this. I the the thing I love most about my job as a primary school teacher is working with children.

They are brilliant. All children want to do is be happy. It's infectious to be around. In the in the height of the COVID lockdown, you know, and everyone's everyone's unhappy. And you go in and you work with a key worker's children and you just forget about everything.

Because you're with the lord's heritage. They're heritage from the lord. So why are they arrows? Seems a bit violent, doesn't it? I think if my mom was here, I should say, they're arrows, Garrett, because you used to break glass when you were a child.

We had 1 lampshade at home that we'd spin and spin and spin because every part of it had no structural integrity because we'd just batter the thing with a football, and we'd break things. But that's not what the Bible's talking about here. How do you make an arrow? What's the the process of making an arrow? They're used in war.

They're used in battle. Yes. But in order to make an arrow, that the arrowhead has to be very, very sharp. So you take it and you take friction to it and you sharpen the arrowhead and it takes time and it takes care and you have to look at it and it doesn't happen straight away and it takes sharpening and it's painful and you cut yourself on the arrowheads. They take thought.

It's not always easy. The process of making an arrow is a thoughtful 1, 1 that takes attention and care. So with that in mind, if if you get the classic Christmas cards. You know, the the Christmas cards that say, oh, just to update you on my family, He's doing he's doing biochemistry. He's he's translated the septuigant and he starts nursery in September.

If you get those Those cards just just ignore them. They're ignoring the process. The processes is a painful 1. It's a hard 1. But I want I want to be very clear.

It's not just a process that the parents are involved in. It is a process that the church are involved in. We had a wonderful example of this this morning. With a lived out example, a lived out illustration of this this morning where we saw the 4 dedications. The 4 dedications were not only for these 4 families.

It was for the church and it was amazing to see. It was amazing to see these 4 children here with Dean leading and turning to the families and saying, will you strive to bring these children to church on a regular basis? We will. That's what the parents answered. And then Dean turned to us.

He didn't leave it there today. He turned to us and he said, will you commit to praying for these children? I'm not gonna say they're named. I can't. Well, you commit to praying for these children.

Commit to pointing them to Christ. Commit to showing them Christ. And what did we answer? We will. So will you?

Will you commit to that? Not just for the 4 that we saw today, but for the children at Cornerstone Church, Will you commit to be praying for these children? Will you hold these children in prayer? So that they too may grow up to a knowledge of who Christ is and what he has done. It'd be amazing If in 30 years' time, when we come to the service, we see all along here.

Answered prayer, all along your answered prayer of how god is building his church. And god is using these children to further his gospel. Now every 1 of us will have physical children, but every 1 of us is is to be involved in the sharpening of the arrows. So that when they are sent out, they will be a blessing and a builder for the sake of his kingdom. If we look again at verse 1, 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. What are you building towards? What house are you building? What ladder have you got propped up?

What are you building towards? We work to the glory of our father and we want to emulate the example that that Christ has given us, and Christ has set before us. Christ who did not labor in vain. Christ who was inseparable from his father and the spirit in doing their work during his building on this earth. And if the lord builds the house, The flip side of this will reverse.

If the Lord builds the house, it is not in vain. That's great news. Let's be involved in that work. Let's be involved in a work that is not futile. That is not pointless.

That will not blow up in our face. But a work that will provide rest. Christ's death and resurrection was not in vain. The Lord is building his house. And we are called to be a part of that building work for his kingdom and for his glory.

So let's let's not labor in vain. Ask the master builder what he wants you to build, how he wants you to help build. And with every confidence, work and work and work knowing that god will bring his work to completion because if the lord builds the house, it is not in vain. I'm going to give it a couple of moments and then till he's going to close this in prayer.

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