By Pr Isaiah White
Throughout history, the world has had builders and buildings. Many expert engineers have constructed magnificent structures which have attracted tourists from near and far.
Structures like Eiffel Tower in France, designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Taj Mahal in India, built by Emperor Mughal Jahan Shah, Sydney Opera House in Australia, designed by Jørn Utzon, Taipei 101 in Taiwan, designed by C.Y Lee & Partners.
Others also include the Burj Khalifa, designed by Adrian Smith and Built by Samsung Engineering & Construction. This stands to this day as the tallest building on Earth.
The Word of God is not silent on these engineered structures.
The Bible mentions towers and strong walls that people and authorities built for their defense and pride.
The first and the tallest of all was the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6), and the Towers of Penuel, Shechem and Thebez (Judges 8-9).
As I write today, all these formerly wonderful structures are in shambles only recognisable by archaeology.
Why we build
Human beings are continuous builders. They build for shelter, safety, security, travel, work, and future.
People are in the business of building and continuously putting up structures in various fashions and heights.
The world has invented cars, aeroplanes, fighter jets, trains and tubes, boats, ships and yatches.
All these were built to ensure security, productivity, transportation, pride and safety. We put up buildings and other structures as stamps of our civilization.
We live, walk, move and work under particular structures that we have built.
As I write this and probably as you read it, you are probably standing or sitting under a structure, or perhaps walking pass a structure or even sitting in one of those invented transportation machines.
These communicate nothing to us, but our invention of dependence.
The wisdom of psalter
In Psalms 127:1 the Bible says: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.
“Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
Since we have built these structures as something to depend on and installed watchmen around them to defend us, the psalter seems to challenge something about these measures.
People build houses and walls, fix doors inside and at the entrance to those houses, put fences and walls around these houses.
The building materials could be stones, sand, and steel. However, for men to ensure their safety behind those buildings, they hire fellow men with weapons to guard them.
The world has highly protected and guarded places like the Fort Knox (USA), Bold Lane Derby (UK), Area 51 (USA), The White House (USA) and Vatican Secret Archives (Italy).
Others also include the Mormon Church’s Secret Vaults (USA), and the Federal Reserve Bank (USA), but even with such high level of security, the psalter argues that unless the Lord guards, all the watchmen, and technology deployed to secure the perimeters are in vain.
Builder or building?
According to the text, it looks like the problem is not with the building as it is with the builder.
The psalter says, unless God “builds”, unless the Lord “watches”.
All the structures mentioned above have the name of their designers and builders tagged on them.
The builder is more important than the buildings themselves.
The reason is that the strength and purpose of any structure depends on its designer and builder.
Surety and confidence should be placed in the builder and the guard.
This is the message of this Psalm. It does not matter how strong the building is, the kind of materials used to build it or the cost.
No matter how guarded the place is, its safety is so much in the kind of guard and less in the expertise and artillery deployed.
Many highly guarded politicians have been assassinated, and many highly secure nations like the USA have suffered terrorist attacks.
Many of us may have at some point locked ourselves in our houses, only to wake up and find thieves at our bedsides.
Recently, the president of Liberia found snakes in his presidential office; a place considered highly secure for the head of state and other important dignitaries.
It is important that we understand what the Psalter is teaching us.
God should be the builder and the strength of all the structures we put in place.
He should be the watchman who watches over the watchmen.
If God is not in the foundation of any building, it will crumble (by any means), however magnificent and regardless of what the expert analysis report says.
The structure, the watchmen, and the arsenal are all ashes if not under the supervision of God.
Let God be the builder and let Him be the watchman of the watchmen this new year.
The writer is a life coach and pastor.
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