“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” Psalm 127:1

Building something creates a legacy, a monument to a person’s vision and shows that he has been here. There must first be a dream, a vision of what can be. Then the mind sets to working on a plan to bring the dream into reality. The resources are gathered and then finally the hands set to work. In the case of the house, a sturdy foundation must be laid on well-chosen ground (Luke 6:46–49).

But that is only part of the building process. Our Lord refers to the foolishness of setting about to build a tower but not taking possible contingencies seriously. Luke 14:28ff reads, “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it—lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” No builder ought to begin the project without having the means of obtaining all the resources to finish the task. Nor should he begin a house he does not have the stomach, or the personal fortitude to bring to completion.

When the house is finished, the grand opening is on the calendar, and the move-in date is approaching, then he can take solace in the fact that he has truly built something. Better yet, when his creation has withstood heavy storms and has proven itself a worthy house, then his heart can embrace the idea that all his work and planning were worth it.

Psalm 127 and 128 are classic chapters concerning the nature of a family. If any household is to survive, the Lord must build it. A good family then, is not really a monument to the parents, it is a monument to the staying power of our sovereign God. The name used to identify God is His covenant-keeping name, Jehovah. Except Jehovah builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

Over in Ecclesiastes 1:2, Solomon illustrates the pointlessness on an eternal scale of so much of life without God: “’Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’” The same refrain is echoed at the end of the book in 12:8. In 12:13f, Solomon exhorts, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Solomon is also the author of Psalm 127; you can plainly see the consistency of his wisdom.

Every family, and everyone in the family, must ask themselves a question, “Who is in charge here?” Naturally, the children would prefer a child-centered home. That will never be healthy for the family. Parents desire a parent-centered home and will often enforce their will in capricious ways. Couples will vie with each other for control because that is what fallen man does and it is what our wounded ego demands. But God must be in charge so He can build the household. Every morning a couple needs to wake up with one resolve upon each heart, that God will be honored to build their household as they willingly submit to Him first, and then to each other.

Our Lord Jesus Christ expresses the sanctity of marriage in Matthew 19:4–6, “And He answered and said to them, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Interestingly, His choice of words is not “who God has joined together…” but “what God has joined together.” Every marriage is a joining of a man and a woman united in the sight of God. He is the “owner” of your marriage, not the two individuals which exchanged vows and are named on the certificate of marriage. When a couple purposely submits to God’s authority over them, then they begin to allow God to build their household!

When a husband knows that God is the builder of the household then he has a partnership with the Lord in leading his household. The words of Proverbs 31:10ff will ring true: “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” Here is a key to a good relationship—each spouse needs to approach any and every disagreement as if the other spouse is good-willed toward them! How many arguments would die aborning if both live up to that commitment!

When a wife knows that God is the builder of the household then she has a partnership with the Lord in leading her household along with her husband. In Ephesians 5:26ff Paul commands, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…so husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who love his wife loves himself.” I think God is harder on the husbands because they are the ones who ultimately answer for their households to God. Better to have God build the house and not labor in vain! Trust and obey.