1Unless 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.
2It 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.
3Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
5Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
This reads to me like Instructions on Work.
There’s to be balance and co-laboring. It’s neither “Let go and let God” , nor “Get busy and make it happen because it all depends on you.”
God is, and is to be the solar center of our labor. He is the only one with sufficient mass. If we place our tiny selves at the center, our universe spins out of orbit. We scramble and scrap and our once good work becomes toil.
As we co-labor with the God who works (Gen. 2:2,3) our work is good and right.
Eugene Peterson compares this good work with the “work” of making children. We must participate, we have a role, but we can hardly call it work.
The fruit of this co-labor is lifelong. It is deeply relational and intimate familial – the polar opposite of individualism and do it yourself.
It reflects the Trinity and creation – all in proper orbit, all as it should be.
Where is my work toil? And why? What can I change in my heart, in my head, in my work to help realign my necessary work with the beauty and truth of this picture?
Maybe have a conversation with your spouse or a friend or co-worker that stirs up this image and helps to bring it to your living, workaday reality.
(Oh, and I guess have a bunch of kids too???)