Scripture Notes.

p. 306.


Psalm 127:2.

A question of translation has been raised on the last clause of this verse. It is contended by some that it should be rendered, "So He giveth His beloved in sleep." The word "in" however is not in the original; and out of some nine or ten versions consulted, almost all give the sentence as it stands in our version. Accepting this, then, as correct, we have to ascertain its meaning. The contrast drawn is manifestly between dependence on one's own energy and strength, and rest in the Lord. The first verse makes this clear. "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it," etc. This truth is enforced in verse 2, the psalmist urging the vanity of seeking to attain the proposed end by human energy. He teaches, in short, that the Lord gives to His beloved what others seek after by their own persevering efforts and carefulness. You, he says, hope by striving and anxious labour, to reach your haven; the Lord bestows rest, as gift and blessing, upon His people. We do not therefore think that "sleep" necessarily means natural sleep; but rather that it is a figure for peace or repose of mind or soul. And what a blessed lesson to learn, that peace can only be enjoyed as the Lord's gift. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Another point may be noticed. The Psalm is attributed to Solomon; the "for" in the title being more properly rendered "of" - that is, "A song of degrees of Solomon." This may explain to us the introduction of the "house" and the "city." Solomon had learnt the lesson, in building the temple, that his work would be in vain, unless the Lord built it; and so also, as regarded the security of Jerusalem, that it would never be safe except the Lord kept it. This, moreover, has another application. The remnant of the last days is found in all these "songs of degrees," and they are thus prophetic. When restored to their own land, they will see the temple being built in unbelief, and the city guarded by an apparently irresistible force of human power. As instructed by this Psalm, they will be comforted by the knowledge that "they labour in vain that build" the temple; for the true temple will be built by the Lord Himself (Zech. 6:12); and also that all the human precautions for the safety of the city will be utterly in vain, because they will be taken without the Lord. Into the obvious applications to ourselves we need not enter, further than to remark, that all rest of heart, freedom from anxiety, blessing upon the work of our hands - all these things are connected with dependence on the Lord.


Colossians 4:2.

The word here rendered "continue" is more accurately given by others as "persevere." The same word is found in connection with prayer in Acts 1:14 and Romans 12:12. (Compare also its use in Acts 2:42-46.) It means that we all are to apply ourselves diligently to, to persist in, prayer, whatever the difficulties or the obstacles in the way. There is a reason, as well as a needs-be, for the exhortation; for whenever a soul, in the realization of its dependence, desires to wait on God in prayer, hindrances to it, raised doubtless by Satan, will be sure to abound; and, on the other hand, such is our natural slothfulness that nothing but purpose of heart, inwrought by the Spirit of God, will overcome it. Epaphras, named later on in the chapter, may be well cited as an example of this spirit - one who, as the apostle says, was "always labouring fervently" ("combating earnestly") for the Colossian believers in prayer, that they might "stand perfect and complete in all the will of God." Would that many such intercessors for the saints might be raised up in these last days. To "watch in the same with thanksgiving" will mean that we are to be careful not to forget to praise as well as pray, not to allow the responses of God in His grace to our cries to pass by without the expression of our gratitude.