Certainly kings understand what it means to bear the responsibility of leadership over a nation, over armies, and to consistently be aware of head hunters.  That’s why Psalm 127 is unique since it was written by Solomon—both the son of a king and one who succeeded his father David to the throne.  What we find in this short psalm is a reminder that we are to work hard for the glory of God and sleep well.

How many people do you know who can’t sleep because they are so worried about their work?  Often such people pride themselves in burning the candle at both ends.  In our culture of greed, it’s an honorable character trait to work endless hours, go to bed late, and rise up early to continue the labor.  The world cheers on that type of unending rat race of selfish ambition.

Solomon understood what it was like to go to bed at night with a nation depending upon him.  He understood what it was like to rise up early with people looking to him for firm and consistent leadership.  Yet, Solomon in a great stroke of wisdom, pens the following words:

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 (Pslam 127:2).

Solomon was looked to as an earthly sovereign, but as a child of God he understood that God was the Sovereign King who rules and reigns over the entire world.  R.C. Sproul has rightly stated, ““If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”  Nothing moves or exists without the sovereign decree of God.  All things are under the rule of God including, heaven, earth, clouds, rain, snow, ice, bees, bears, locusts, lions, and thrones.  God literally holds our next breath in His hands.

If you know anything about American cities, the city of New York is nicknamed “the city that never sleeps.”  The city is always full of lights and cars and people.  It’s common to see people always moving about—going to work, carrying out their labor, and trying to move up the corporate ladder all hours of the day and night.  Often, Christians fall into the trap of eating the bread of anxious toil like the rest of our culture.  Charles Spurgeon explains, “Through faith the Lord makes his chosen ones to rest in him in happy freedom from care…those whom the Lord loves are delivered from the fret and fume of life.” [1]

The Baptist catechism asks a very important question.  It asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is provided, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  When we rise up early and prepare for work and then go out and perform our labor for the glory of God, we should return home tired and sleep well at night.  However, when our labor is carried out with selfish ambition we will continue to work and seldom slow down to sleep and rest in God—who never sleeps.

If we learn to work hard for an honest day’s wage—we can trust in God who always provides for His people (Matt. 6:33).  If a person labors for selfish purposes, it naturally produces anxiety and inner turmoil to be successful.  The next time you are tempted to think you are responsible to keep the whole world moving forward—remember your body will eventually tell you that you need sleep.  It’s a simple reminder that you aren’t God.  It’s also a blessing to rest and have assurance that God is never sleeping, He is always alert, and God is able to honor the labor that is carried out for His glory.  Each day we should work hard, come home tired, and sleep well.


  1. Charles Spurgeon, Psalms, Crossway Classic Commentaries, ed. J. I. PACKER, “Introduction,” (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 273.

 

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