Inheriting Destiny

Psalm 127

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon. NKJV.


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.

It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.

Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

THIS is a wisdom psalm — it reveals to us the pathway of God’s favor. In this case, wisdom compares a way of life that is empty and vain with a life that is fruitful and full of blessing. This psalm was written by Solomon, who is considered the wisest man in the world. It belongs with the Psalms of Ascent (Psalm 120-134), a collection that was used to prepare the heart as one made pilgrimage to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the three big feasts of Israel: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.

Lord, build our house.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

This is the first of three vanities Solomon warns us about. The word for “house” comes from the word banah, which means “to build.” In the natural, we think of a house as a physical structure, an abode or dwelling-place made of wood and stone.

But Solomon has something much deeper in mind, so instead of “building,” think “family,” for a house is a place of relationships. It is a place where inheritances are imparted. Every house bears a name, and that name establishes the family and its inheritance.

Whose name does the house bear? Unless it is name of the Lord, the house is in vain and will eventually come to ruin. Only the Lord can build something that will endure. Jesus gives us a vivid description of a house built in vain and shows us how to build one that endures:  

Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand; and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24-27)

Now, when God builds a house, He is not simply putting together a little social unit — He is planting a seed of hope to reap a harvest that changes the world. It is much more than a dynasty, it is a destiny. The Lord built Abraham a house, and through him  blessed all the families of the earth. He built David a house, and through him brought forth a King of Righteousness who reigns forever.

Lord, build our house.

Lord, guard our city.

“Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”

Just as a house is a place of destiny, so a city is a gathering together of houses for the protection of those destinies. What is more, the destiny of a house sets the destiny of a city. Destroy the house, and the city eventually crumbles.

In the Bible, cities also often served other specific purposes. Some were meant for grain storage, others were destined for treasuries. Solomon had cities specifically designated to accommodate his 40,000 chariots and 12,000 horsemen.

A city must have the purpose of God, but it must also have the protection of God. So Solomon warns us of another vanity. If the Lord is not the one watching over the city, there is no question about whether it will be overcome and brought to nothing. The only question is when. In Isaiah, God tells us of the watch He set for His people: 

I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem;
They shall never hold their peace day or night.
You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,
And give Him no rest till He establishes
And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.

(Isaiah 62:6-7)

God has set His purposes and given His promises, and He will see them fulfilled. If we look to the Lord to build our house and we obey the watch He has set, crying out to Him continually, holding His promises before Him, and if we do not keep silent, but pursue Him with all our heart, our cities will be places of praise and honor where He is made famous. We shall be blessed, and the whole earth shall be blessed through us.

Lord, guard our city.

Lord, give us rest.

“For so He gives His beloved sleep.”

Solomon cautions us about a third vanity. “It is vain to for you to rise us early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows.” Why is it vain? Because the Lord gives His beloved sleep. Or as the New American Standard Bible puts it, “He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”

There is rest in God because it is all about God and not about us. Our provision and protection does not come because of us. It is His doing. The Lord our God does not sleep or slumber, so while we are asleep, He continues to watch over and take care of us. Our part is simply to rest in Him, and that is a matter of faith.

Consider the children of Israel. The generation that wandered around in the wilderness for forty years remained in the desert and died there. The author of Hebrews tells us that, although God had prepared a place of rest for them, “they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:19).

Think of it. They had the Word of God concerning the wonderful rest He had for them. They had the Gospel preached to them, “but the word which they heard did not profit, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it” (Hebrews 4:2). They had no faith to lay hold of God’s Word, so they perished in the wilderness.

The promise for rest, however, still remains. The author of Hebrews tells us that, “we who have believed do enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3).

When the Lord builds our house and watches over our city, we can rest peacefully, knowing that all will be well. Proverbs 3 tells us that when we walk in the wisdom of the Lord we shall enjoy rest. “When you lie down, you will not be afraid. Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet” (v. 24).

Lord, give us rest.

Lord, give us children.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord.”

And now Solomon has arrived at the central point of his psalm. Everything he has said up to now was simply a preparation for this, and if you miss it, you miss his whole purpose. The clue to how important this is in the word “behold.” It is a call to pay close attention, to focus our self upon, to gaze intently and meditate deeply. When the Lord tells us to “behold,” He is directing our attention to a very foundational truth. Just what  truth is it, then, that God wants us to give ourselves so wholeheartedly to? Simply this:

Children are a heritage from the LORD!

The word for “children” comes from the word banah, the same root word that is used for “build” and “house.” The children build up the house; sons and daughters build up the family name.

Children are called a “heritage.” That is, they are an inheritance. We receive them from the Lord. He entrusts us with them. Now, inheritances are not given to squander, but to enlarge, and God expects us to treat our inheritance with wisdom, and the vision of His purpose.

Adam and Eve were instructed to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth and have dominion (Genesis 1:28). What were they to multiply? The image of God, for that is what God created them to be upon the earth. They were to fill the earth with the image of God and exercise the authority of God. That’s the big picture, and as God brings us to redemption through Jesus Christ, we are all called to be a part of its fulfillment. So Solomon enlarges the point:

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.

Our job is to receive this great inheritance from the Lord and impart to our children vision, wisdom and direction. We are called to be as warriors, faithfully launching our children as arrows toward their world-changing purpose and destiny in God. There is preparation, as we instruct our them in the ways of God, then release, as we send them forth to walk in those ways. And so the purpose of God flows from generation to generation. The house is enlarged and its destiny fulfilled.

This is a very blessed and happy state, as Solomon concludes:

Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

We release our children with the vision and wisdom of God, and the more, the merrier. One shall put a thousand to flight, two shall put ten thousand to flight. They shall not be put to shame but shall overcome all their obstacles.

They shall “speak with the enemies in the gate.” The gate of the city is the place of authority and leadership, the place where decisions are made and legal matters are settled. It is also a place of commerce and prosperity. Capture the gates and you capture city.

The Hebrew word for “speak,” dabar, literally means to arrange or subdue. As we impart the wisdom and purpose of God to our children, they will subdue their enemies at the gates of the city. There shall be no breaking in, only going forth.

So here is where the family and the city come together. The city protects the destiny of the house, the house launches sons and daughters into their destinies, and the sons and daughters prevail at the gate of the city so that it prospers. The inheritance enlarges until the whole earth is filled with the blessing of the Lord.


Build our house and create our destiny.Guard our city and protect our destiny.
Give us rest and fulfill our destiny. Give us children and pass on our destiny.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

© 2005 by Jeff Doles.
All rights reserved.

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“JEFF DOLES is a Christian author, blogger and Bible teacher. His books include The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth: Keys to the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Matthew and Praying With Fire: Change Your World with the Powerful Prayers of the Apostles. He and his wife, Suzanne, are the founders of Walking Barefoot Ministries. Visit their website at”

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