Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds(A) the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches(B) over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food(C) to eat—
    for he grants sleep(D) to[a] those he loves.(E)

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward(F) from him.
Like arrows(G) in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.(H)
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents(I) in court.(J)

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 127:2 Or eat— / for while they sleep he provides for

16 And I saw something else under the sun:

In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
    in the place of justice—wickedness was there.

17 I said to myself,

“God will bring into judgment(A)
    both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
    a time to judge every deed.”(B)

18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals.(C) 19 Surely the fate of human beings(D) is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath[a]; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.(E) 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward(F) and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”

22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work,(G) because that is their lot.(H) For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?

Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness

Again I looked and saw all the oppression(I) that was taking place under the sun:

I saw the tears of the oppressed—
    and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
    and they have no comforter.(J)
And I declared that the dead,(K)
    who had already died,
are happier than the living,
    who are still alive.(L)
But better than both
    is the one who has never been born,(M)
who has not seen the evil
    that is done under the sun.(N)

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.(O)

Fools fold their hands(P)
    and ruin themselves.
Better one handful with tranquillity
    than two handfuls with toil(Q)
    and chasing after the wind.

Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:

There was a man all alone;
    he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
    yet his eyes were not content(R) with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
    “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
    a miserable business!

Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiastes 3:19 Or spirit

Further Instructions

Devote yourselves to prayer,(A) being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door(B) for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery(C) of Christ, for which I am in chains.(D) Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise(E) in the way you act toward outsiders;(F) make the most of every opportunity.(G) Let your conversation be always full of grace,(H) seasoned with salt,(I) so that you may know how to answer everyone.(J)

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