Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for He grants sleep to those He loves.
(The NASB ends with “For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”)
This is one of my favorite verses. Like so many things in the Bible it shows us how Kingdom thinking is paradoxical to our natural mindsets. Sleeping could be productive while rising early and staying up late could be in vain?
Before you quit your job and go back to bed, by no means am I promoting lazinesss. The Bible makes clear its value for hard work and warns of the consequences of being lazy. Proverbs 20:13 says, “Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.”
So what is Psalm 127 about? This verse is for those of us who take the pressure of the future, of provision and protection too heavily on our own shoulders. This is for the planners and worriers and those of us who push ourselves too hard, putting provision before relationship and call it “responsibility.”
This gave me a lot of comfort when I started my wedding photography business. When the business was new I had a lot of trouble not thinking about it. I slept less because I would work late and get up early. Even if I was at dinner with my husband, I would stress about responding to an email right when it came in (in case they booked another photographer instead), or I would spend a lot of extra time with a client who was difficult, so that they wouldn’t be upset and write a bad review. I was letting my fear of losing business run my life more than God, forgetting that unless He watched over my business in the first place, all my worrying and laboring would be in vain anyway.
This verse helped me step into a place of peace knowing that, He will always be a better manager of my life than I am. He is working things out even while I’m sleeping. Psalm 121:3 says “He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber” He doesn’t sleep so that we can. What a good Dad we have!
Because I know what a good Heavenly Dad I have, I know He is watching over my needs. Even when things may not look the way I expect it to, I have never been without and that’s His promise to all of us: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).
It doesn’t mean we’ll never have financial hiccups. It just means that the pit is never where we have to stay. A few weeks ago, I ordered something wrong for a client and ended up having to spend $150 for the same product twice. In the past, that kind of thing would have made me so frustrated, worried and angry at myself, but now I can simply learn from my mistake and move on, knowing that God is way bigger than my mistakes. He has never let my foot slip. In fact, just last week I got a surprise check in the mail for the same amount from a greeting card company who used a photo of mine!
The point isn’t that we shouldn’t work hard or have ambition, the point is: work with God and stop trying to take His place as the master builder or the master watchman. Let Him do the heavy lifting and for goodness sake, stop the worrying!
So whatever it is that’s keeping you up at night, remember, if God doesn’t got this, all you could do to try to protect yourself is pointless anyway. But guess what, He’s got this. So be at peace and get some rest!