By Francis Frangipane
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Ps. 127:1).
Before we speak on this verse, it is important to explain a particular characteristic often found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Often, the Old Testament writers communicated truth by repeating two views of the same thought. We see this especially in the wisdom and prophetic books. An example would be: “With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips” (Prov. 18:20). The same concept is presented in two affirming ways. Another example is, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old” (Ps. 78:2). Truth is conveyed utilizing a poetic rhythm that is not only beautiful, but a way to unite two corresponding thoughts into one idiom.
In this regard, when the Psalmist admonishes, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain” (Ps. 127:1), he is saying the same truth in two interrelated ways. Whatever it is that we are doing to secure and protect ourselves, unless we bring the Lord into the process, “we labor in vain.”
Yet, the positive side of this is that, when the Lord builds the house, its foundation will be built firmly upon the rock of eternal truth; it will stand. And, when the Lord guards the city, He will supernaturally align Himself with our efforts, and the city He guards will be protected.
You see, the house of the Lord is a house of prayer: intercession brings the presence of God into the city; it releases laborers for the harvest (see Luke 10:2), and it brings reconciliation between enemies. In fact, the summary truth is this: when the Lord builds the house, then the Lord will guard the city. The specifications of His building plans require His people to be praying, loving and investing themselves into their cities. Empowered by the anointing of God, the living house of the Lord can transform communities!
Jesus confirms this in His promise, “I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18 KJV). He is stating that, when His house is built in obedience to His word, the strongholds of evil over individuals, neighborhoods and communities will be impacted and broken.
When revival explodes in a city, what happens to the powers of darkness in the heavenly places? Where do they go? The answer is: they are displaced by the fullness of God’s Spirit in the regional church!
Paul tells us that it is “by the church” that the manifold wisdom of God is revealed “unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10 KJV). And what is happening in the spirit realm? The church is blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3)! The prevailing influence upon society is not lawlessness and evil, but the power of heaven. Beloved, let us rejoice in the promise that, in spite of increasing evil in the world, where the church is Christ-centered and obedient, there the Lord will guard that city!
However, when the church is not built according to Christ’s directives, but remains selfish and divided, the principalities and powers have access in a greater degree to the souls of men. In such cities, spiritual wickedness guards neighbors and communities.
One does not have to be very discerning to see this is true. On your next drive from the country into the city, see if you cannot discern a distinguishable cloud of oppression as you enter various regions of your community. That invisible barrier is the range of influence of the ruling spirits which manipulate the thought-life of the people. The demonic power of that area of influence is the “strong man, fully armed,” who “guards his own homestead”; whose “possessions are undisturbed” (Luke 11:21).
But when the church is alive with obedience to Christ, it will be united with other believers and will be unstoppable by the powers of hell. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church Christ builds, for through its prayer, love and action, the Lord will guard the city.
Lord, guide me to others in my city who have a heart to pray together. Help me to be a means to seeing Your house built in our community. Lord, I believe that when You build Your house then You will guard our city. Amen.
Adapted from Francis Frangipane’s book, “When the Many Are One” available at www.arrowbookstore.com.