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.
Unless the Lord builds the house.
What is the house that King David is talking about? It is you, your body, my body, and our community as human beings. To go through life, building a life and a community without God in your heart is vanity or as David’s son would say, vanity and a striving after wind.
An individual house or houses built without God in their heart is a person who will not see rest and a community who will know strife and turmoil. This is the human race.
Verse two tells us that without our house being built by God or without God in our hearts, no matter how hard we work and chase our worldly desires, it is all in vain. Even if we achieve worldly success we have labored in vain. Our works were for worldly rewards which mean nothing to our hearts.
David says in the second half of verse two, we will eat the bread of anxious toil. We will toil and worry. We will achieve worldly things and then toil as we try to achieve more, anxiously toiling away to maintain what we achieved.
What happens in the end?
We die and it all goes to someone else who cares not of what we did to achieve this meaningless success. What meant so much to you means nothing to them. The value is in our own vanity.
Your house was built by worldly and vain desires. Your heart is void of God and filled with meaningless trophies of your hard work which was all in vain. You’ve spent a life time of anxiety and worry about finite, inanimate objects. In the process you lost your soul, the only lasting, important piece of your life. You wasted the gift from God.
King Solomon understood this and said so in Ecclesiastes 5:18:
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.
Solomon spent much of his life acquiring great wealth and worldly possessions. But he realized that one day his soul would depart this earth and his empire would go to those who care little about it. Solomon realized that the most important thing in life is living your life. It’s not about what you accumulate, what you buy, what you win, it’s about what you do.
This is why King David writes that a house built by the Lord, or a life built with God in your heart, will not be in vain.
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