PSALMS 127      Other translations  -  previous  -  next  -  meaning  -  Psalms  -  BM Home  -  Full Page


A Song of degrees of Solomon.

  1. Except jehovah build the house, they who build it labour but in vain; except jehovah guard the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
  2. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: truly, he gives his beloved sleep.
  3. Behold, sons are an heritage from jehovah; the fruit of the womb is his reward.
  4. Like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the sons of youth.
  5. Blessed is the man whose quiver is filled with them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with the enemies in the gate.

The Internal Sense

That all things of the church are from the lord, and nothing from man, verses 1 to 3; that he will rest in safety who is in truths from the lord, verses 4, 5.


Verse 1. Except jehovah build the house, etc. To build a house denotes to instruct the external man in intelligence and wisdom, see AC 1488; and since intelligence is of truth, and wisdom is of good, by building a house in the present case is signified the increase of good from truth; that house is good, may be seen, AC 2233, 2234. What the good of truth is, was said above, AC 4337, namely that it is truth in will and act; this truth is what is called good, and the conscience, which is from that good, is called the conscience of what, is true. This good, which is from truth, increases in proportion as a man exercises charity from a principle of good-will, thus in proportion as he loves his neighbour, and its quality is according to the quality of that love. The reason why so frequent mention is made of good and truth in these explications is because all things which are in heaven, and hence all things which are in the lord's church, have reference to truth and good; these two principles include in general all things which are of doctrine and which are of life, the truths which are of doctrine, and the goods which are of life. The human mind also, in the universal, has no other objects than what are of truth and of good, its understanding (having for objects) such things as are of truth, and its will such things as are of good. Hence it is evident, that truth and good are terms of most extensive signification, and that their derivations are in number ineffable. It is for this reason, and from this ground, that good and truth are so frequently mentioned. AC 4390.

Verse 2. Truly, he gives his beloved sleep. That sleep, in a good sense, denotes tranquillity and peace, especially in that state which intervenes between temptation-combats; see Psalm 3:5, Exposition.

Verses 3, 4, 5. By the sons who are the heritage from jehovah, and by the fruit of the womb which is his reward, are understood the truths and goods of the church, by sons, truths, and by the fruit of the womb, goods, for both these are rewards, and the heritage from jehovah, that is, heaven, which is from truths and goods, namely, from the reception of them; by the sons of youth, who are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, are signified the truths of the ancient church, which were natural truths from a spiritual origin; this church is understood by youth; and whereas all power is in those truths against evils and falses, therefore it is said, like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, arrows denoting truths destroying falses; doctrine from truths is signified by the quiver, the same as by the bow; and whereas they who are in doctrine from those truths fear nothing from falses, it is said, "Blessed is the man whose quiver is filled with them; they shall not be ashamed when they speak with the enemies in the gate," not to be ashamed, denoting not to be conquered, and enemies in the gate denoting the falses of evil which are from hell. AE 725.

Verse 5. To speak with enemies in the gate. As to what concerns the signification of gate, it is to be observed that in general with every man there are two gates, one leads to hell, which is open to evils and false principles, therein originating, in this gate are infernal genii and spirits; the other gate leads towards heaven, and is open to goodnesses and truths therein originating, and in this gate are angels; thus there is a gate which leads to hell and a gate which leads to heaven: the gate of hell is open to those who are principled in what is evil and false, in which case, through chinks only in all directions upwards there enters somewhat of light from heaven, whereby they are enabled to think and reason; but the gate of heaven is open to those who are principled in good and truth thence derived: for there are two ways which lead to man's rational mind, a superior or internal way, whereby good and truth from the lord enters, and an inferior or external way, whereby evil and the false principles enter underneath from hell; the rational mind itself is in the middle point to which these two ways tend; this mind, by reason of the goodnesses and truths which are therein, is in the Word compared to a city, and in consequence of being go compared and called, it has gates allotted it, and is everywhere described as subject to be besieged and assaulted by enemies, that is, by wicked genii and spirits, whilst angels from the lord, that is, the Lord defends it; infernal genii and spirits, with evil and false principles, can come no further than to the inferior or external gate, and in no wise into the city, for if they could come into the city, or into the rational mind, all would be over with man; but when they come so far, that they seem to themselves to have mastered the city, then it is shut, so that good and truth from heaven no longer flow into it, only, as was observed, somewhat through chinks round about; hence it is that persons in this situation have no longer any thing of charity or any thing of faith, but place good in evil, and truth in what is false; hence also it is that such are no longer truly rational, although they seem to themselves to be so, see AC 1914; and hence it is that they are called dead men, although to themselves they seem to live more than others, see AC 81; and this is in consequence of the gate of heaven being closed; that it is closed with persons of such a character, appears manifestly and is plainly perceived in another life; and it is as plainly perceived on the other hand, that the gate of heaven is opened to those who are principled in good and truth. As to what particularly concerns the gate of enemies spoken of in this verse, it is to be observed, that this gate is with man in his natural mind, and when he is altogether a natural man, or unregenerate, then evils and false principles possess it, or, what is the same thing, evil genii and spirits flow into it with the lusts of evil and the persuasions of what is false, see n, 687; but when man becomes spiritual or is regenerated, then evils and false principles, or, what is the same thing, wicked genii and spirits, are driven away from that gate, or from that mind, and when they are driven away, goodnesses and truths, or charity and faith, take their place, which is signified by the words, "Your seed shall possess the gate of your enemies;" this is effected in particular with every individual man during regeneration, and in like manner in another life with those who come into the lord's kingdom.

The same is effected also in general, or in the church, which consists of several individuals: this was represented by the children of Israel driving out the nations from the land of Canaan, which circumstance, in a literal sense, is meant by the expression, "Your seed shall inherit the gate of your enemies," but in an internal sense is signified what has been said above: it was from this ground that in ancient times it was customary to use this expression, in blessing those who were joined together in marriage, as it is also evident from the blessing of Laban, when his sister Rebecca went betrothed to Isaac, "O our sister, be you for thousands of myriads, and may your seed inherit the gate of your haters," Gen 24:60.

That such things are signified in the Word by the gate of enemies or haters, may appear from the following passages, "I will kill your root with famine, and will slay your remains; howl, O gate, cry, O city, you whole Philisthea are melted, because smoke comes from the north," Isaiah 14:30, 31; where to kill the root with famine, and to slay remains, denotes to take away goodnesses and truths which were stored up in the interiors by the lord; that these things are remains, may be seen, AC 468, 530, 560, 561, 562, 661, 798, 1050 2284; gate denotes the passage to the interiors or rational mind; city denotes the mind itself, or goodnesses and truths therein, see AC 402, 2268, 2450, 2451, 2712; Philisthea denotes the science of the knowledges of faith, or, what is the same thing, those who are principled in the science of those knowledges, but not in the good things of faith, see AC 1197, 1198; smoke from the north denotes the false principle which is from hell; that smoke is the false principle originating in evil may be seen, AC 1861. Again, in the same prophet, "The city of emptiness shall be broken, every house shall be shut up from entering in; a cry over the wine in the streets, all gladness shall be desolated, the joy of the earth shall be banished, what remains in the city shall be desolation, and the gate shall be smitten with vastation, for thus shall it be in the midst of the earth, in the midst of the people," Is 24:10, 11, 12, 13; the city of emptiness which shall be broken denotes the human mind in it is deprived of truth; the shutting of every house denotes that it is without good; that house is good, may be seen, AC 2233; a cry over wine in the streets denotes the state of the false principle; that cry is predicated of what is false, may be seen, AC 2240; that wine is truth, concerning which there is a cry that it is not, see AC 1071; that streets are what lead to truths, see AC 2336; gladness which is desolated is predicated of truths, the joy of the earth which is banished is predicated of goodnesses; hence it is evident what is signified by this, that what remained in the city should be desolation, and that the gate should be smitten with vastation; the gate is said to be vas-tated, when nothing but evils and falses have rule.

So in Jeremiah, "The ways of Zion do mourn, so that they come not to the appointed festival, all her gates are desolate, her priests groan, her virgins are anxious, and it is bitter to her; her enemies are become the head, her foes are secure, because jehovah has affected with anxiety, on the multitude of her transgressions, her infants have gone away captive before the enemy," Lam 1:4, 5; the ways of Zion that mourn denote that there were no longer any truths grounded in good; that ways are truths, may be seen, AC 189, 627; all her gates desolate denote that all the passages were possessed by falses; the enemies becoming the head denote that evils had rule.

Again, in the same prophet, "jehovah has made the outwork to mourn, and the wall of the daughter of Zion, they languish together, her gates are sunk into the earth, he has destroyed and broken her bolts, her kings and her princes are amongst the gentiles; the law is not, even the prophets have not found vision from jehovah; all your enemies have opened their mouth upon you, they have hissed and gnashed with the tooth, they have said, we have swallowed her up, certainly this is the day which we have waited for, have found, have seen," Lam 2:8, 9, 16; where the gate sunk into the earth denotes that the natural mind was seized upon by evils and falses; her kings and princes being amongst the gentiles, denote that truths were immersed in evils; that king denotes truth in general, see AC 1672; that princes are primary truths, see AC 1482; that gentiles (nations) are evils, see AC 1259, 1260.

So in Moses, "A nation from afar, from the extremity of the earth, shall straighten you in all your gates, in your whole land, thus shall your enemy straighten you," Deut 28:52, 53; speaking of the curses denounced against the people, if they did not continue steadfast in the commandments and statutes; a nation from afar, from the extremity of the earth, in an internal sense denotes evils and falses, or those who are principled in what is evil and false; to straighten in all the gates denotes the shutting up of every passage for good and truth.

So in Nahum, "Behold your people women in the midst of you, the gates of your land are open with opening to your foes, the fire devours your bolts; draw out for yourself waters of a siege, strengthen your fortifications, enter into the mire, and tread pitch, make strong the brick-kiln," Nahum 3:13, 14; the gates of the land being open to foes denotes that evils possess the place where goodnesses should be. So in the book of Judges, "Ways have ceased, and they have gone in paths, they have gone in winding paths, villages have ceased in Israel, he has chosen new gods, then were the gates assaulted, was there a shield seen, or spear among forty thousand in Israel," Judges 5:6, 7, 8; the prophetic song or enunciation of Deborah and Barak; to assault the gates denotes the assaulting goodnesses and truths. So in David, "The inhabitants of the gate conceive thoughts against me, they that drink strong drink make melody," Psalm 69:12; where the inhabitants of the gate denote evils and falses, also infernals. So in Ezekiel, "In the visions of god I was led to the door of the inner gate looking towards the north, where I saw the abominations of the house of Israel: I also was led to the door of the gate of the house of jehovah looking towards the north, where were also abominations," Ez 8:3, 6, 14, 15; the door of the inner gate looking towards the north denotes the place where were interior falses; the door of the gate of the house of jehovah denotes the place where were interior evils; that there are interior falses and evils, and that there is an interior sphere wherein are such spirits and genii may be seen, AC 2121.

So in David, "Lo, sons are an heritage from jehovah, the fruit of the womb is his reward, as arrows in the hand of a strong one, so are the sons of youth, blessed is the man who has filled his quiver from them, they shall not be ashamed, when they shall speak with the enemies in the gate" Psalm 127:3, 4, 5; to speak with enemies in the gate denotes not to fear evils and falses, consequently not to fear hell: so in Isaiah, "In that day shall jehovah of Zebaoth be for a spirit of judgement to him that sits for judgement, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate, and also these are insane with wine, and err with strong drink," Isaiah 28:5, 6, 7; again, in the same prophet, "Elam lifted up the quiver in the chariot of a man, and horsemen, Kir made naked the shield, and the choice of your valleys was full of chariots and horsemen, they set themselves at the gate, and he looked in that day to the armoury of the house of the forest," Isaiah 22:6, 7, 8. So in Jeremiah, "Judah has mourned, and her gates have languished, they are black to the earth, and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up, the great ones have sent the little ones to the waters, they have come to the pits, and have not found waters," Jer 14:1, 2, 3; again, in the same prophet, "The elders have ceased from the gate, the youths from their music," Lam 5:14; from these passages it may appear what is signified by the gate of enemies, namely hell, or infernals, who continually assault goodnesses and truths, and whose habitation is with man, as was said, in his natural mind; but when man is such as to admit goodnesses and truths, consequently angels, then the infernals are driven away by the lord from their habitation, and when they are driven away, the gate of heaven, or heaven itself, is opened; this gate is also frequently mentioned in the Word, as in the following passages, "A song in the land of Judah, we have a strong city, salvation will set walls and outworks; open you the gates, and the righteous nation shall enter, that keeps faithfulnesses," 26:1, 2; again, in the same prophet, "Thus says jehovah to his anointed Cyrus, whose hand I have taken hold of, to cause the nations to go down before him, and I will open the loins of kings, to open before him valves, and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before you, and make the crooked things straight, I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron," 45:1, 2. Again, "The sons of the stranger shall build your walls, and their kings shall minister to you, they shall open your gates continually, they shall not be shut day and night; violence shall no more be heard in your land, wasteness and breaking to pieces in your borders, and you shall call your walls salvation, and your gates praise," 60:10, 11, 18; again, "Pass through, pass through the gates, prepare a way for the people, make level, make level the path, say to the daughter of Zion, behold your salvation comes," 62:10, 11, 12; so in Micah, "They shall pass through the gate, and they shall go forth thereby, and their king shall pass through before them, and jehovah in their beginning," Micah 2:13.

So in David, "Lift up your heads you gates, and be you lifted up you everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in; Who is the King of Glory? jehovah strong and mighty, jehovah mighty in war; lift up your heads you gates, and be you lifted up you everlasting doors," Psalm 24:7, 8, 9, 10; again, "Celebrate jehovah, O Jerusalem, praise your god, O Zion, because he secures the bars of your gates, he blesses your children in the midst of you," Psalm 147:12, 13. Hence it is evident that the gate of heaven is where the angels are with man, that is, where the influx of good and truth from the lord is; consequently, that there are two gates, as was said: concerning these two gates the lord thus speaks in Matthew, "Enter you in by the straight gate, because wide is the gate and broad the way which leads to destruction, and many there be that enter therein, because straight is the gate and narrow the way which leads to life, and few there be that find it," Matt 7:12, 13, 14; Luke 13:23, 24. Moreover the gates to the New Jerusalem, and the gates to the New Temple, are much treated of in Ezekiel, and also in the Revelation, by which gates nothing else is meant but the passage to heaven; concerning these gates see Ezekiel 40:6 to 49; 43:1, 2, 4; 44:1, 2, 3; 46:1 to 9, 12; 48:31, 32, 33, 34; Rev 21:12, 13, 21, 25; 22:14; Isaiah 54:11, 12; hence Jerusalem is called "the gate of the people," Micah 1:9; Obadiah 1:13. AC 2851. "

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