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.
Psalm 127:2 (ESV)
Have you ever wondered why God designed human beings to need sleep? We all sleep for about a third of our lives, so if we were to live for our threescore and ten, that is around 23 years of our lives spent asleep! Just think of all the things we could do in those 23 years had God not designed us this way. Surely God could have created us with no need for sleep, after all he doesn’t sleep. So why did God conceive the idea of sleep for us?
The Psalmist speaks of God providing sleep as a gift of love, but this gift is often spurned by anxious toil. God does not want his children to be anxious, but to trust him: ‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.’ (Psalm 4:8 NLT). It is reasonable to conclude that God made sleep as a continual reminder that we should not be anxious but should rest in him.
Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God, for ‘…he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.’ (Psalm 121:4). Once a day, God sends us to bed like patients with a sickness. The sickness is a chronic tendency to think we are in control, and that our work is indispensable. To cure us of this sickness God created us with a need for sleep without which we would shut down and cease to function. How humiliating to our human pride that we have to give up all control once a day, every day!
Sleep is an acted out parable showing that God is God and we are mere human beings. God handles the world quite nicely while we sleep: he is in control. Sleep is like a broken record that comes around with the same message every day: humans are not sovereign – God is.
God wants us to trust him as the great sustainer and upholder of the universe who never tires and never sleeps. He is not nearly as impressed with our late nights and early mornings as he is with a secure and peaceful trust that casts all anxieties on him, which enables us to sleep with confidence, knowing that he is in control of our lives.
Let’s go to sleep this evening with Peter’s words on our mind: ‘Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.’ (1 Peter 5:6-7 ESV).
Father, as we close our eyes tonight, help us to rest peacefully, trusting in your loving care. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Study by Barry Robinson
About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Pastor for the South of England
Grace Communion International Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Saturday 11 am
Local congregational contact:
Word of Life contact: