Monday, September 6, 2010

September 6 - a little Luther for Labor Day on Psalm 127

interesting that this year the first Scripture verse you read from TDP on Labor Day is Psalm 127:1.

Below is something I got from Rev. William Cwirla through Rev. Charlie Mallie.  I hand it out to all premarital couples who see me.  Enjoy!  (You might also like this Issues, etc. on the hymnody for today.)

Martin Luther on Marriage and Home
An Exposition of Psalm 127
For the Christians at Riga in Livonia, LW 45:322-324

"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."

First we must understand that "building the house" does not refer simply to the construction of walls and roof, rooms and chambers out of wood and stone.  It refers rather to everything that goes on inside the house which we call "managing the household ...." Solomon's purpose is to describe a Christian marriage....

Reason and the world think that married life and the making of a home ought to proceed as they intend.  They try to determine things by their own decisions and actions, as if their work could take care of everything.  To this Solomon says No! He points us instead to God, and teaches us with a firm faith to seek and expect all such things from God.  We see this in experience too.  Frequently two people will marry who have hardly a shirt to their name, and yet they support themselves so quietly and well that it is a pleasure to behold.  On the other hand, some bring great wealth into their marriage; yet it slips out of their hands till they can barely get along.

Again, two people marry out of passionate love; their choice and desire are realized, yet their days together are not happy.  Some are very eager and anxious to have children, but they do not conceive, while others who have given the matter little thought get a house full of children.  Again, some try to run the house and its servants smoothly, but it turns out that they have nothing but misfortune.  And so it goes in this world; the strangest things happen.

Who is it that so disrupts marriage and household management and turns them so strangely topsy-turvy? It is he of whom Solomon says: Unless the Lord keeps the house, household management there is a lost cause.  He wishes to buttress this passage and confirm its truth.  This is why he permits such situations to arise in this world, as an assault on unbelief, to bring to shame the arrogance of reason with all works and cleverness, and to constrain them to believe.

This passage alone should be enough to attract people to marriage, comfort all who are now married, and sap the strength of covetousness.  Young people are scared away from marriage when they see how strangely it turns out.  They say, "It takes a lot to make a home"; or, "You learn a lot living with a woman." This is because they fail to see who does this, and why he does it.  And since human ingenuity and strength know no recourse and can provide no help, they hesitate to marry.  As a result, they fall into unchastity if they do not marry, and into covetousness and worry if they do.  But here is the needed consolation: Let the Lord build the house and keep it, and do not encroach upon his work.  The concern for these matters is his, not yours.  For whoever is the head of the house and maintains it should be allowed to bear the burden of care.  Does it take a lot to make a house? So what! God is greater than any house.  He who fills heaven and earth will surely also be able to supply a house, especially since he takes the responsibility upon himself and causes it to be sung to his praise.

Why should we think it strange that it takes so much to make a home where God is not the head of the house? Because you do not see him who is supposed to fill the house, naturally every corner must seem empty.  But if you look upon him, you will never notice whether a corner is bare; everything will appear to you to be full, and will indeed be full.  And if it is not full, it is your vision which is at fault, just as it is the blind man's fault if he fails to see the sun.  For him who sees rightly, God turns the saying around and says not, "It takes a lot to make a home," but, "How much a home contributes!" So we see that the managing of a household should and must be done in faith (then there will be enough) so that men come to acknowledge that everything depends not on our doing, but on God's blessing and support.

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