Studies in Psalms – Psa 127:1-5 “God is our Refuge and Strength, a Very Present Help in Trouble”

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Psa 127:1-5 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble”

Psa 127:1  A Song of degrees for 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.
Psa 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.
Psa 127:3  Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Psa 127:4  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 
Psa 127:5  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

The title of our study this evening is taken from Psalm 46:1, which says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Those words are a promise which describes the power God will give us through Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2) the one who is building the house, or keeping the city as stated in Psalm 127:1. 

No one can go unto the son unless the Father drags him there (Joh 6:44), so being built a spiritual house in the Lord is a work of the Lord granted to those to whom it was ordained from the foundation of the world. These following verses describe who that foundation is and how that foundation will come about and why it must come about, and they are very much connected to the truth of how the Lord will “build the house”. 

1Pe 2:5  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 

Eph 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Eph 1:4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Eph 1:5  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Eph 1:6  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 
Eph 1:7  In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Eph 1:8  Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 
Eph 1:9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Eph 1:10  That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 
Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 
Eph 1:12  That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

It is God who determines the times and the seasons, the hardening and softening of hearts, and therefore knows who it is with whom Christ will come and sup (Rev 3:20), and when the Father drags us to Christ it is for that very purpose of having Him work in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Rev 3:14-20, Php 2:13). He knows our works are initially meant to be neither cold not hot, but lukewarm, and so the means by which He has devised to save us from this banished condition (2Sa 14:14) of lukewarmness is described in these verses below that describe the only thing which can truly change our proud hearts and turn them into hearts that are humble and contrite and vessels fit for the master’s use.

Rev 3:14  And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 
Rev 3:15  I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 
Rev 3:16  So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 
Rev 3:17  Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 
Rev 3:18  I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 
Rev 3:19  As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent [Heb 12:6, Heb 5:14, 1Pe 5:10, Heb 5:7, Rom 2:4, 2Ti 2:12, 1Pe 4:12].

Heb 12:6  For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

Heb 5:14  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 

1Pe 5:10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

Heb 5:7  Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

Rom 2:4  Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 

2Ti 2:12  If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

1Pe 4:12  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 

Rev 3:20  Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice [Joh 6:44], and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

When we build a city, it is a vain labor, and when we try to watch over that city, it is in vain as well, and which tells us is our righteousnesses are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6), and our ability to watch for and overcome the adversary is impossible without the Lord both building and watching over that which He builds as the good shepherd (Eph 2:10). 

We are called with Christ in us to build each other up in our most holy faith (Jud 1:17-25), not having dominion over each other’s faith (2Co 1:24), but watching and praying together as the day approaches (Mat 25:13) and looking well to the flock to protect it against the adversary with Christ in us (1Pe 5:2, Mat 16:18). Our part in that sense is to know it is Christ who is building the house and witnessing through us how to properly give warning to those nations within us, heeding and not despising His goodness which leads those nations to repentance. In turn we are being a witness to all other nations without of this changed life we now possess through Christ. These verses in Ezekiel explain that process of witnessing within and without for the body of Christ (Eze 3:1-11, Eze 3:8, Eze 33:1-11, Eze 33:4-5).

Eze 3:8  Behold, I have made thy face strong against their faces, and thy forehead strong against their foreheads.

Eze 33:4  Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 
Eze 33:5  He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul.

Man’s concept of building does not stand the test of time either physically or spiritually, whereas that which God builds will endure and last forever, reminding us that only Christ can be Christ (the true witness, the true watchman), and only Christ can truly be the author and finisher of our faith with the words of eternal life our Father has given Him (Joh 6:68, Joh 2:19, Joh 16:15). God must show us this contrast of who the real builder is in our life in order to humble us so that we can become that new creation that is founded upon the apostles and prophets (1Co 3:6, Eph 2:20). What the flesh ultimately wants is instant gratification, a ten-second sinner’s prayer, and no lifetime of overcoming that would involve falling seven symbolic times and witnessing against those nations within us over and over as we are delivered from sin through Christ (Pro 24:16).

Our hope is that with Christ in us (Col 1:27) we can learn to appreciate this process which will bless us with “an heritage of the Lord” as we go from glory to glory in the Lord being sanctified along the way as a result of that hope of glory within. Christ alone is able to make us stand and present us before our Father without blame, and Christ works through each of us to that end as we wash each other’s feet, or take care to help each other as we learn how to walk circumspectly at the end of this age.

2Co 3:18  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Eph 1:11  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

1Jn 3:3  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 

Jud 1:24  Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 
Jud 1:25  To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. 

Joh 13:14  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. 

Eph 5:15  See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 
Eph 5:16  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

In tonight’s study, we will look at how the heritage of the Lord, “the fruit of the womb reward”, is not physical children, although our children can and do bless us; more importantly they represent the natural part of our walk in this life that is first – in every instance unless they are being dragged to the Lord – and will be sacrificed for our sakes so we can learn how important our new spiritual children are in the Lord (2Co 4:15). Those children are represented by these verses in our study that refer to His word, or doctrine (Psa 127:3-5), and just to further brighten this point Christ used many different parables related to family (Mat 19:29, Luk 14:26) and physical things to contrast for us the value of His word, and our relationship with Him in this life, who is the word of life and way to salvation (Joh 1:1, Joh 14:6).

Mat 19:29  And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. 

Luk 14:26  If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

The reward for all mankind is ultimately everlasting life, but God drives home the point through the existence of mankind just how little regard He has for flesh, and what sacrifices will be made for our sakes so that we can inherit eternal life as His kind of first fruits (Jas 1:18) who will one day show mercy to the rest of His creation (Rom 11:32, Joh 12:40).

Our joy and happiness in this life comes in obeying the commandments of God and pleasing our Father always by holding fast to the words of eternal life He has given us and with which He is sanctifying us. If we endure through the chastening those fiery words bring about when they are used to convict us and heal us, and don’t despise that process, we will be received as sons. The Lord also knows that the correction is not easy and that we naturally despise it, but He will if we are being saved in this age, get us through the humiliation which judgment brings upon our old man (Joh 17:17, Pro 3:11, Heb 12:6).

When we have our “quiver full of them” [His word likened unto to arrows and children], we are rightly able to divide the word, and that fullness of our quiver represents the sum of God’s word that is truth (Psa 119:160), and with that undefiled word within us we become, by the grace and faith of God, an Israelite indeed (Joh 1:47) being able to be like our master in whom there is no variableness or shadow of turning, nor thinking above what is written (Jas 1:17, Joh 10:30, 1Jn 4:17, 1Jn 4:6).

The process of becoming more and more like Christ, shining more and more until the day star arrives (Pro 4:18, Php 2:15, Rev 22:16) is why this Psalm is once again “a song of degrees” as we go from glory to glory having the veil of our carnal heart ripped and seeing more clearly through this glass through we see we darkly for now (1Co 13:12), being kept humble in these earthen vessels, even being chastened and scourged as we learn obedience through this life by the things He allows and orchestrates for our benefit (Eph 1:11, Rom 8:28, Isa 45:7).

We actually grow in our ability to trust God after the flesh is put off, and then do we with joy-filled hearts see and comprehend with all the saints the breadth and length and height (Eph 3:17-19) after we have suffered awhile and are established through Christ (1Pe 5:10, Rom 8:18). After that established mindset happens we have need of a patient mind which perseveres as scripture says (Heb 10:36) because God has called us to a race that will require endurance and a longsuffering spirit which must be develop over time (Heb 12:1-3).

His mercy will prevail upon the church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against us, and in the end we will deeply understand the wretchedness of flesh (Ecc 3:18, Rom 3:10) and the love He has set on us first which was demonstrated in His great mercy and forgiveness toward us while we were yet sinners (Rom 5:8, 1Co 1:26-28). This is all being accomplished by God so we can then do the same for the rest of His creation that needs to be redeemed by those very few saviors who are being saved first (Mat 22:14, Oba 1:21). 

As we go through this process of being redeemed of the Lord, we will be blessed to remember that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” and today is the time of “Jacob’s trouble” for those with whom God is working and bringing unto perfection in this age (Jer 30:7, Mat 24:15-31). It is that trouble God brings upon our souls that is the means to the end (2Sa 14:14), the judgment upon us (1Pe 4:17) which is restoring our souls and making us one with each other and Christ and our Father (Joh 14:20). 

2Sa 14:14  For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person: yet doth he devise means, that his banished be not expelled from him. 

Joh 14:20  At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

Psa 127:1  A Song of degrees for 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.

This opening verse plainly states something that the rest of the Psalm will be used to confirm, as it shows us what it means when you are blessed to have the Lord build the house, which is what is happening when the sword or word of God does not depart from your house (2Sa 12:10).

Strong delusion was upon us when we did not see God’s total sovereignty in every aspect of life, in the good and the evil. The world without, if they were able to peer into our hearts, would see the conviction of the elect and proclamation that many are called and few are chosen and consider that true gospel as the smell of death to them, because it has not been given to them to understand what we see, and that in the positive sense of death we are lying dead in the streets of Jerusalem (2Co 2:16, 2Co 3:5, Rev 11:8). God has mercifully allowed us to identify with Christ on the cross, and our need to be buried into his death in order to do the works of Christ as we are given power to both mortify the deeds of the flesh or overcome sinful flesh, and live out our life to His glory with everything that we say and do (Luk 9:23, Gal 2:20, Rom 8:13).

When we mortify the deeds of the flesh or are crucified with Christ, what naturally follows is that we will be led of the holy spirit and the spirit will bear witness that we are his children (Rom 8:14-17). That is once again a process or song of degrees so that we never lose sight that it is the Lord who is building the house, and destroying the beasts within our land little and by little (Deu 7:22).

Rom 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 
Rom 8:15  For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 
Rom 8:16  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 
Rom 8:17  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. [Heirs who have an heritage spoken of in verse three “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward“]

When we are convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom 8:38-39), we will be comforted to know and see that the Lord has been destroying our earthly works because He loves us and wants us to see clearly and continually that “except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain”.

Psa 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. 

Psa 127:2 Futile is it for you to rise early, And stay up late, Eating the bread of grievous labor; Yet so is He giving to His beloved in their sleep.” (CLV)

All is vanity the preacher says, meaning we are subject to vanity in the flesh that cannot inherit the kingdom of God and our flesh is not where our hope lies (Ecc 1:2, Rom 8:20). We “rise up early” in the morning, and are still only awake in part, not seeing the fulness of Christ, the fullness of the Sun of righteousness (1Co 13:9-13, Mal 4:2).

1Co 13:9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 
1Co 13:10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 
1Co 13:11  When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 
1Co 13:12  For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 
1Co 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 

We also sit up late seeking the Lord all throughout the day and into the night (Joh 3:1-3) and he gives us “bread of sorrows”. Remember the key note verse to this Psalm is the first one that talks about how we try to labor and figure things out in our heavens by building the house, and all our ways seem right to us (Pro 21:2, Pro 16:33) but God says otherwise of our flesh which He frustrates for the very purpose to show us that the way which seems right to us leads to death and that the prophet can be easily deceived because it is the Lord who is doing it (Pro 14:12, Eze 14:9). 

Joh 3:1  There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 
Joh 3:2  The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. 
Joh 3:3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Pro 14:12  There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. 

Eze 14:9  And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. 

When we are blessed to die daily to that notion that we can labor and find the Lord with our own righteousness and many wonderful works, it will be because the Lord has brought us to that blessed point where we cry out for help being at our wits’ end. Then we will see through the darkness and find our joy in the morning, our Lord, who takes us through the storms (Psa 107:30). After the storm, after the wonderful works of God unto the sons of men, we will learn the better way which is to know God and His Son Jesus Christ, our safe haven (Joh 17:3) who blesses us to be led by God’s holy spirit so that we can have true liberty (2Co 3:17). 

2Co 3:17  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The “bread of grievous labor” does not enlighten and quicken us as God’s word will when it is rightly divided (2Ti 2:15), and yet that obscurity is unavoidable as we ‘come out of her, my people’ and little and by little begin to see and acknowledge the bondage Babylon had us in by decree of our Lord. We have to experience that glory to glory event of coming out of Babylon to know and be convinced we are no better than anyone else and it was all by the grace and faith of God that any one of us could have ever overcome and endured until the end of this life (Mat 24:13, Php 4:13).

We can plant and water all day long, but if God does not give any spiritual increase by opening our heavens, no growth will be had (2Ti 3:7, 1Co 3:6, Ecc 2:21). Conversely, God’s children are given the ability to labor for the meat which does not perish, and that healthy desire is expressed in these verses below and spoken of in the parable of the loaves and fishes that will multiply simply because Christ has prayed for us and asked our Father that would be the case (Mat 14:16-22, Joh 17:20, Luk 22:32).

Joh 6:27  Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 

Ecc 5:18  Behold that which I have seen: it is good and comely one to eat and to drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the sun all the days of his life, which God giveth him: for it is his portion. 
Ecc 5:19  Every man also to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labour; this is the gift of God [Eph 2:8].

God’s elect are growing in their desire to be with Christ in the fullness and no longer in part, the fleshly part that is only in earnest and promised to pass (Eph 1:14), and that is what we groan today and all the creation groans as they await the adoption of Gods sons to be born. The world certainly does not believe that that is going to be the case but regardless what they think (Isa 3:1), the world still wrestles through the night [like Nicodemus] because God has put in the hearts of man to be ever seeking and never able to come to the knowledge of truth (2Ti 3:7) as they groan for something greater, that something being the workmanship of God in their lives. The elect will be used to fulfill that desire in all of His creation through the lake of fire judgment that will bring about that new creation (Php 1:23-24, Rom 8:22-23, 1Co 6:3).

Our rest God gives us is found in being able to deal with this temporary and fleeting life where we are to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in Christ. “So he giveth his beloved sleep” is not physical sleep necessarily, that is a shadow of the restoration that our spirits need, but rather giving his beloved sleep is giving us the ability to rest in the Lord (Gen 2:2, Heb 4:11). When we labor to rest in the Lord, it is the Lord giving us that sleep spoken of here and that is how the house of God is being built; not by might or power but by His holy spirit as we rest in the Lord (Zec 4:6).

Psa 127:3  Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. 
Psa 127:4  As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. 
Psa 127:5  Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. 

I’ve grouped these last three verses together that are speaking of the same point, that our heritage is to be the first to trust in God (Eph 1:4, Eph 1:12), in his words of eternal life that are found in “the fruit of the womb” which represents Jerusalem above the mother of us all, the church (Gal 4:26, Eph 3:10). 

Gal 4:26  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 

Eph 3:10  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,

We are the first to trust in God “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” and He is the only one who could have brought about those conditions where we are accepted of Him through the beloved (Joh 3:16, Eph 1:6, Joh 3:16, Rom 5:10).

The “children of the youth” are likened unto “arrows are in the hand of a mighty man”, and we know that mighty man is Christ who is the author and finisher of our faith who is making it possible for us to be sanctified by God’s word in our life today (Mar 3:27, Joh 17:17).

We are not ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1:16) and are called to be fellow laborers together who are not ashamed because we can rightly divide the word of God (2Ti 2:15), and that is what it means to have those “arrows in the hand of a mighty man”. 

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 

2Ti 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 

Those words of eternal life, and the ability to rightly divide them, is the gift and the heritage that God gives to the weak of the world as we prove all things and hold fast to that which is true by Christ’s might, or “the hand of a mighty man” (1Th 5:21), who gives us the ability to overcome “the enemies in the gate” of both our own deceitful and desperately wicked hearts (Jer 17:9) and the hearts of all mankind that will never prevail against the body of Christ (Mat 16:18, Col 1:24).

God is going to make all this happen for the benefit of all the world, and reassures us that it is His good pleasure to give us the kingdom in earnest today (Luk 17:21) and one day in the fullness (Luk 12:32, Rev 11:15). God’s elect are the only ones in the flesh who will be granted to be overcoming through Christ and who can and will declare to the rest of the world, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

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