Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain (Psalm 127:1, KJV). What good is it to build a house, a physical structure so strong that you become convinced it will weather whatever storm the Lord may throw against, yet not but a spiritual home to weather the trials of life that beat against the soul? To ask, of course, is to answer. Yet, that is exactly how a great many people operate in this world. Unfortunately, many of these same people identify themselves as Christians.
The Psalm is not speaking of a physical structure at all, however. The psalmist speaks to that which is greater than the physical realm, though he uses the words “house,” “city,” and “children” to make his point. One can build a physical structure, but was it built with the Lord in the center of it? One can fortify the city with the arsenal of man, but did the leader (leaders) of the city incorporate the greatest weapon (the Lord) known to man? One can have many children (or few) and be proud of each, but did he (the parents) prepare the children for the future that lies before them?
When the Lord protects the house one built, in place is a teaching that not only secures a proper foundation upon which the house is built, but also ensures a direction and arrival that is out of this world (if you will)! When the Lord protects the city, not only will He be the assurance of those who reside within, but He will be the destruction of those who attempt to come in to do harm from without.
The “children” of 127:3 really refer to the males, and some translations reflect a literal rendering of “sons,” rather than children. Whether males or females, without the Lord and without the parents being directed by the Lord, what direction would the son (child) go?