Psalm 127 is a well-known passage of Scripture. The first half (1-2) emphasizes the necessity of God superintending our work if it is not to be in vain, while the second half (3-6) extols the blessing that children are, picturing them as arrows in a man’s quiver. But tucked away at the end of verse two is a little appreciated line:
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.
What Solomon indicates here is that apart from the LORD’s blessing of our labor, it is vain (cp. Eccl 1:1-18). But this last line also recognizes the good gift that sleep is to his people. When we rest our heads on the pillow at night, we are in effect implicitly trusting both the sovereignty and goodness of God. We are trusting his sovereignty because sleep is the cessation of our labor. It is us recognizing that whatever remains undone, God alone is sovereign over it. We are trusting his goodness in surrendering to the rest that our bodies need to enable us to function. It is us recognizing that we are not God.
If you’re anything like me, it is easy for my mind to run wild at the end of the day as I lie in bed waiting to fall asleep. Often my mind turns to the things that did not get done, or what must get done for the next day. This can easily turn into sinful anxiety (cf. Matt 6:25-34). At the root of our anxiety is often the idol of control. Deep down we believe that we either have or must have control. And if we push that even further, it is at the root rebellion against the One who truly is Sovereign.
So tonight as you lie in bed, waiting for sleep to overtake you, and your mind turns to the things you did not get done, rest in the goodness and sovereignty of God. And then embrace sleep as God’s good gift.
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Since 2006 Dr. Matthew S. Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He is also a member of Christ’s Covenant Church, where he serves on the Preaching Team, leads a small group, and teaches regularly in their Life Education classes.
Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology, which is a forum for all matters pertaining to biblical theology (and some entirely unrelated).
Follow him on Twitter: @DocHarmon