Psalm 127:2b has been my least favorite verse in the Bible, “[The Lord] gives to his beloved sleep.”
So many nights I’ve laid awake trying to sleep, unable to sleep, because I’m anxious about myself and my loved ones…
Then, I’m anxious that I’m anxious, because I’m commanded not to be anxious.
Then, I remember, “The Lord gives to his beloved sleep.”
And I think, “Oh God, you don’t love me. How hard must I toil to get you to love me?”
Sleep is the loss of conscious control. It’s like choosing to stop choosing.
It’s the loss of conscious control, and sometimes it comes with the illusion that you’re in total control—we call that dreaming.
You can’t simply choose sleep. And you don’t always know when you have it.
You could be dreaming that you’re awake and in total control.
In Scripture, death is often referred to as sleep.
Maybe sleep is like practice for death.
Death is certainly the loss of conscious control… or what we think is conscious control—because after all, we could be dreaming that we’re awake and in control.
Jesus was remarkably good at sleep and dying—not suicide, but surrender.
Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchmen stay awake in vain.”
If the Lord builds the house and watches the city, why should we build and watch at all? Why toil at all?
The house is any house, and certainly the Lord’s house—the temple.
And we know the temple is ultimately us.
And that temple is also the city, the New Jerusalem.
Psalm 127:2 “It is in vain that you rise early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil (etseb); for he gives to his beloved sleep.”
In Proverbs, Solomon wrote, “The blessing of the Lord makes rich and anxious toil (etseb) adds nothing to it.”
We speak about original sin and forget original blessing.
“God created the Adam in his own image… and God blessed them.”
All is blessed and everything is good on the eternal seventh day.
Yet on the sixth day, the Adam couldn’t find his Helper, who is the Good, who is God, who is the ultimate blessing and constantly gives himself.
It made the Adam susceptible to the lie: “You can make yourself in the image of God with the knowledge of the Good and a whole lot of anxious toil.”
Perhaps evil is trying to take what’s always been given—the Life of the Good.
Perhaps the Good is trusting that all has been given—even fore-given.
And that’s called Faith in Grace, by Grace. God is Grace.
Just after the Adam couldn’t find his Helper, God places a deep sleep (tardemah) on the Adam, who is humanity.
He creates Eve from sleeping Adam’s bleeding side, just as he creates us from the last Adam’s bleeding side, as he dies… and wakes.
There is no mention of anyone waking from the deep sleep (tardemah) until Isaiah prophecies that the Lord will appear, and Jerusalem will wake to the Love of God.
“Awake O sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will give you Light,” writes Paul.
The idea that we could separate ourselves from God, and that he no longer loves us, is a vain illusion and bad dream.
But the body broken and blood shed is no illusion; it’s reality.
It is how God enters our nightmares and gives us his dreams.
His dreams are called reality, and you are his dream.
You are his beloved.
He not only builds the house; he’s already built the house.
“If the earthly tabernacle we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God eternal in the heavens.”
He not only watches over the city; it’s eternal.
He gives me this knowledge on a tree in a garden on which the Life of the Good, who is God, lifts his head and cries “Father forgive, they know not…” and “It is finished.”
When I know that the house is finished and the city is eternal—I can sleep, for I wake from the illusion of my own sovereign control.
With anxious toil I accomplish nothing.
But with faith, hope, and love in me, God accomplishes eternity in time.
There is no point to all your anxious toil.
Your ego will ask, “Then why toil at all, why love at all?”
When you see that you are—and have always been—the beloved, you will want to love, and it won’t feel like toil. That’s called faith.
You will have nothing to prove, just someone to be—the image and likeness of God.
Faith is the ability to sleep in any storm, and faith is waking from the dead.
Psalm 127 is not a threat, but knowledge of the eternal blessing.