These, and several that follow are called “Song of ascents” (120-134). This from Wikipedia:
Many scholars believe the title indicates that these psalms were sung by worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to attend the three pilgrim festivals (Deuteronomy 16:16) or by the Levite singers as they ascended the fifteen steps to minister at theTemple in Jerusalem. One study suggests that they were composed for a celebration after Nehemiah’s rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls in 445BC. Another proposes that they were composed for the dedication of Solomon’s temple and were first sung during the night of the fifteenth of Tishri 959 Most scholars, however, consider that they may originally have been individual poems which were later collected together and given the title linking them to pilgrimage after the Babylonian captivity.
They were well suited for being sung by their poetic form and the sentiments they express. “They are characterized by brevity, by a key-word, by epanaphora [i.e., repetition], and by their epigrammatic style…. More than half of them are cheerful, and all of them hopeful.” As a collection, they contain a number of repeated formulaic phrases, as well as an emphasis on Zion.
There are gems throughout. In these eight the theme of looking to the Lord runs throughout, that Israel’s hope is in him alone, that he will protect and bless them, even those who pray for God’s city. Psalm 127 is a classic:
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to those he loves.
3 Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
Over the years I’ve thought this house building by the Lord applied to many things I’ve done, most of which haven’t worked, but something different comes to mind today. I think of John 14:2
My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?
But instead of focusing on this eternal house being prepared for me, my focus is on this world as if it were eternal. It is better to simply trust in God, do what we must, and enjoy his peace.
Isn’t it interesting in our day that children are the only blessings that Christians determine they only want to many of. We say, God, I don’t want anymore rewards from you. Evangelicals have bought hook, line and sinker, the secular vision for the family. “The pill” is probably as prevalent among conservative Christians as their secular fellow citizens. There is something wrong with our moral base that this is the case. Certainly, that base isn’t informed by Scripture, where new life is always a gift. And isn’t it interesting that one of the benefits of having children is that of defending the family’s honor. Other versions use this translation:
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
Life is hard, and we know it can be even harder with children in a lot of ways, but in God’s economy, the blessings far outweigh the challenges. Amen.