Psalm 127 – Blessing Over the House & A Hittite Blessing for a House

A Song of Degrees for Solomon

1 Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

4 As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

The fear of God is the way to happiness.  Realizing that building, protecting, and bearing fruit are wholly the Lord’s doing and not man’s.

A Hittite Blessing for a House

Ritual text n Hittite language and cuneiform script from the city of Sarissa (modern Kusakli) with instructions for an annual festival conducted in spring in honor of the storm god of Sarissa; manuscript from the 13th century B.C.

Virtually all people are concerned for the well-being of their own home and household.  Frequently people will invoke divine help for the protection of their families, but often the differences we see among such invocations are far greater than what they have in common.

A Hittite text has been discovered that describes ritual purification of a house deemed to have become ritually polluted.

The reason for the alleged defilement is unclear; perhaps its inhabitants had suffered from misfortune or infertility or the house itself had manifested problems such as mildew. 

The text explains that an exorcist came and ritually recited various possible explanations for the defilement, suggesting that perhaps a perjurer, murderer, or witch had entered the house.

The exorcist proceeded with an elaborate ritual involving the recitation of myths and magic formulas, while making animal sacrifices and pouring out libations at various locations.  All of this was meant to encourage primordial deities to carry off the uncleanness of the house to the underworld.

Although the Old Testament specifies a number of rituals that concern uncleanness, none involves magic formulas, recitation of myths, or the invocation of infernal deities.

Hittite Child’s Toy

In fact, the Old Testament is extremely practical in its outlook regarding household defilement (see Lev 14:33-57).  Psalm 127 vividly illustrates the Old Testament attitude toward the welfare of a household.

First, security comes from God, not from personal diligence (vv 1-2).  Second, children, as a gift from God constitute the true wealth of a home (v 3-5)

Reverence for God and devotion to family are at the heart of the Bible’s teaching on the well-being of a home, in contrast to the superstition of pagan teaching.