Franklin Co., VA.
Aug. 12, 1870.
DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: - Will you be so kind as to give your views on Psa. 127:2, which reads as follows: “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for so he giveth his beloved sleep.”
John R. Martin.
REPLY. In the preceding verse we are told that “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it. Except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” This psalm was undoubtedly written and sung by David, the sweet singer of Israel; and, as in the caption, was inscribed to Solomon, his son, and in it allusion is made to the house of the Lord, and city of Jerusalem. David had expressed a strong desire to build a house for God, and in the 132’nd Psalm, speaks of his afflictions, in that he, being a man of blood, was not permitted to perform his vow in regard to that work. The house which David proposed to build, and which was subsequently built by Solomon, the son of David, was a type of the church, which Christ, the spiritual Son of David, said he would build upon the Rock, and against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. See II Sam. 7:1-10 & I Kings 5:3-6.
The city of Jerusalem, spoken of in the context, which no watchman, independently of the Lord, could keep, is also typical of the New Jerusalem, which John saw in his vision, coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride prepared for her husband.
As that house could not be built, even by David, nor even by Solomon, until the Lord gave wisdom and power, and as the city of Jerusalem was subject to invasion and captivity, despite the vigilance of the watchman, so we are taught by the figures to understand how futile and vain are all the labors of men to either build or protect the church of the living God, and how entirely dependent we are on God to build up Zion, and to environ her with walls of salvation, and invincible bulwarks of almighty power and grace. He is himself a wall of fire around about her, and the glory in the midst. The reason why she shall not be moved is, because God is in the midst of her, and he will help her right early.
David had sworn unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob, that he would not go up into his bed, nor give sleep to his eyes, nor slumber to his eyelids, until he had found out a place for the Lord, an habitation for the God of Jacob. Psa. 132:2-5. But God’s purpose prevailed, and David, though beloved of the Lord, was laid to rest in his grave, and slept with his fathers, before the house of the Lord was built in Jerusalem, by Solomon.
There is no amount of industry or means using, on the part of God’s people, that can hurry on the work of the Lord in building up his kingdom, or in protecting the people of our God from the mad assaults of their enemies. God has not rested this responsibility upon builders or watchmen, but has reserved the work in his own hands; and so he giveth his beloved sleep. Instead of imposing on his children grievous burdens, or a yoke which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear, he has called them to take his yoke, which is easy, and his burden, which is light, and to learn of him, and they shall find rest to their souls. Sleep in our subject signifies rest. “For we which have believed do enter into rest;” and the rest into which we have entered remaineth for the people of God. Heb. 4:3 & 9.
How great the contrast. The sons of Noah on the plains of Shinah toiled with much labor and pain, to make brick, and to burn them thoroughly, and they had brick for stone, and slime for mortar, and without any authority or aid from God, united in a desperate effort to build a tower whose top should reach to heaven; but they never finished the work. So the Babel builders of this day hold and preach that God has committed the salvation of the world to the church, and requires her to rear the building to the heavens. They rise up early, and they sit up late, but all their works are unavailing. They are like the troubled sea that cannot rest. But to the beloved church and bride of Christ he giveth rest. Instead of building a house for God, they are brought to dwell in the house of the Lord forever; and instead of collecting and organizing a kingdom for the Lord, it is their Father’s good pleasure to give them the kingdom. They enter it by his grace, and rest forever from their own works, as God rested from all the works of creation which he had made, and “so he giveth his beloved sleep.”
September 15, 1870.
Elder Gilbert Beebe