Updated: Oct 10, 2021
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1  Unless Yahweh builds the house, *
their labor is in vain who build it.
2  Unless Yahweh watches over the city, *
in vain the watchman keeps his vigil.
3  It is in vain that you rise so early and go to bed so late; *
vain, too, to eat the bread of toil,
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
4  Children are a heritage from Yahweh, *
and the fruit of the womb is a gift.
5  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior *
are the children of one's youth.
6  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! *
he shall not be put to shame
when he contends with his enemies in the gate.
This is the accompanying Psalm to the Track 1 Old Testament reading from Ruth. It will be read aloud in unison or sung by a cantor on the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 27], Year B, if an individual church is on the Track 1 path, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. The Ruth reading will say, “When [Boaz and Ruth] came together, Yahweh made her conceive, and she bore a son.” That pair will precede a reading from Hebrews, where Paul wrote, “[Jesus] has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself.” All will then accompany the Gospel reading from Mark, where it is written, “Then he called his disciples and said to them, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Omitted from this Psalm 127 is the announcement at the beginning of verses one that says, “This is a ‘Song of ascents of Solomon.’” It should then be realized to not be a song of David. This is worth knowing, as in three places the proper name “Yahweh” is written [all mistranslated as “the Lord”], with Solomon not known [from his Wisdoms or Proverbs] to write “Yahweh” often. One can then assume this song was written by the boy king, before the Tabernacle was replaced by the grand Temple of Solomon, when the Ark and the Covenant was moved. As a “song of ascent” this song would have been sung by the faithful slowly proceeding up the steps leading to the “House” of Yahweh, wherever that was at the time sung.
In this Psalm 127, the NRSV clearly shows it as being five verses in length. The Episcopal Church, however, has modified this so they make it be a six-verse song. I have placed the name “Yahweh” in bold text. Additionally, I have placed the proper numbering of the verses in bold text, within brackets. I will refer to those numbers in the following interpretation.
In verse one, where it says, “Unless Yahweh builds the house,” the Hebrew word translated as “house” if “bayith.” That word most typically states a “dwelling place,” but on a broader sense it means a “family of descendants,” as those of one central relationship to one another. In this sense, Solomon was making a statement about the nation of peoples called Israel, of which he was the king. In essence, his wisdom stated it to be an accepted truth that without the “House” of Israel being created by Yahweh, the lasting ability of that nation of peoples would be nill. This means Solomon knew Israel was doomed to failure, if it did not have Yahweh as the “builder” of each and every Israelite, including himself.
As an accompanying Psalm to the story of Ruth, one needs to see how what Solomon wrote was mirrored in that story. When it is stated that Boaz and Ruth “came together,” the truth of the Hebrew written says, “when he went into her.” This clearly states the reality of sexual intercourse; but the metaphor of “entering into” must be seen as the greater statement. A soul is already within a body of flesh; but when a soul marries Yahweh, then Yahweh entering into one’s soul. This is how a “house” to Yahweh is built. Thus, when the story of Ruth then follows by stating, “Yahweh made her conceive, and she bore a son,” that states the truth that Yahweh is the builder. The “house” He built was “the son,” which reflects the Trinity that makes a “house” built by “Yahweh” be truly Holy.
The Ruth story ends by saying that the “son” who was built was named “Obed,” which means “Servant, Slave.” This says the true “house” of Yahweh is one where all family within that “house” is subservient to Yahweh. Yahweh becomes their King. The story of Ruth says Obed would lead to David, so David became a “Son” of this “house,” who was the “Beloved” of Yahweh. Solomon was not a replacement to Yahweh. Thus, a house built by a human king was prophesied by Solomon as bound to failure. The story of Ruth’s fourth chapter follows the famine that existed during the times of judges, when Israel (as a nation of peoples) had cheated on Yahweh and turned away from His Covenant – the agreement of the marriage of their souls to Him. All the down times of Israel were due to having human builders of that “house.”
When verse one continues this theme of being without Yahweh, we see how a soul married to Yahweh has a watcher who protects the “house” from unwanted influences. This has to be seen as the metaphor of the marriage between Boaz and Ruth, which made Naomi so happy. The son born became the watchman sent by Yahweh to protect the city of Bethlehem. When the elders would later go to Samuel and demand a king, to be like other nations, those other nations were not built by Yahweh’s hand. The capital cities were incapable of rejecting invading influences, which would ultimately destroy them from within.
In verse two, the element of “sleep” must be realized as being metaphor for death. To say Yahweh “gives his beloved sleep,” this means a soul in love with Yahweh has submitted itself unto Him, having died of self-importance. As such, that soul no longer needs to keep a vigil over one’s ways. Vanity comes from trying to be smart enough to rise up early and stay awake late, in order to prevent evil from entering into one’s “house.” Only through the sacrifice of “self” [a “self” equals a “soul”] to Yahweh can one enjoy a peaceful life, without worry that evil will overtake one’s “house.”
In verse three, the connection to Ruth is stated in “Children are a heritage from Yahweh, and the fruit of the womb is a gift.” It must be realized that the story of Ruth says, “Yahweh made her conceive.” This is also a statement that Yahweh controls barrenness as necessary; and, at all times He develops the fetus in the womb. It is not the hand of the mother that creates a body of flesh that will receive the breath of life [“ruach”]. The theme of barrenness in the Holy Bible says human beings are incapable of making life. Yahweh is the Creator. Without His hand in play, nothing is sacred. This means Yahweh must enter into one’s soul, in order to build a life cleansed from sins, making one able to bear good fruit.
Verse four then sings, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.” This restates the message of Moses to the Israelites, before they took possession of the Promised Land [when they entered into that “house”], which was to teach their children’s children’s children. This means the watchman is the renewal of vigilance through offspring, all made by the hand of Yahweh. The war is against evil, so the souls breathed into flesh built by the hand of Yahweh becomes the arrows that shoot straight and defend the “house” from attackers [the story of Satan going to war with Job].
Verse five then sings, “Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! he shall not be put to shame when he contends with his enemies in the gate.” This, again, restates the message of Moses to the Israelites, to have many children [be fruitful and multiply] and then teach them to save their souls, through marriage to Yahweh [when adult influences abound]. To have many children who are slaves or servants to Yahweh is truly a blessing. The shame those children of one’s youth prevent is that brought on by the acts of sin. Those warriors will shoot down all efforts by Satan to possess a soul and lead it astray. Well-trained children will prevent that failure, so a “house” will not collapse into ruin.
The story of Ruth began with the failures to uphold the Covenant, when the times of judges means forty years of waywardness, followed by the righting of the ship by a judge sent to be the warrior against evil. The marriage of Boaz and Ruth symbolized the beginning of forty years in service to Yahweh again. Still, after Jesse brought forth David into Israel, the elders were again leading the peoples to ruin. David would become the last judge of Israel, the last child born to defend the people at the gates, so evil was kept away. Everything then boils down to the realization that only the children can defeat evil, as did young David. The longer one goes in life, the weaker one becomes; so, the children are to be raised to take one’s place. This is why Naomi placed the son Obed to her bosom and nursed him. She was teaching Obed the ways of the righteous.
As a song of praise to be sung loudly on the twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s own personal ministry for Yahweh should already be well underway, the lesson here is to raise one’s children to be submissive to Yahweh. That is a wonderful plan, if one’s parents had married their souls to Yahweh and drew your soul to their bosom and nursed you on moral values. The reality is we are in one great long downturn away from Yahweh. Evil is not only at the gates of the “house” of Christianity, it is the Trojan Horse that has entered the “house” and infected the body of flesh. The COVID19 fears are symbolic of this loss of faith. The religion of Jesus has collapsed into ruin, in the same way Israel and Judah fell in disgrace and shame. The salvation of the land demands individuals submit their souls to Yahweh and go to sleep and stop being the whores of society that cannot stop petting their cell phones as their god. They cannot stop checking their investments for imaginary gains of wealth, none of which will ever leave this material realm.
As the season after Pentecost approaches a close, it is time to realize there are no children defending the walls of a “house” built by Yahweh. We are headed to destruction and enslavement by overlords, thinking the whole time everything is okay. Now is the time to repent and submit totally in service to Yahweh. Otherwise, an eternity of misery will be in one’s future. Ask Solomon. He knew how vain it was to expect anything lasting, without the builder being Yahweh.