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Archive for the ‘Psalm 121’ Category

God Doesn’t Sleep

Let’s begin by reading Psalm 121:

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.”

Sleep is an odd thing really. Have you ever thought about it? I think about it from time to time. Why did God make us so that we need to sleep? I’m assuming that God could have made us differently, but he didn’t.

  • We spend 1/3 of our lives asleep
  • A person of 70 years has slept 204,400 hours

Yet without sleep, we get sick, mentally ill and we will even  die.

But my point today is that God doesn’t sleep. This comes from our Scripture reading – “He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” – Psalm 121:3-4

Now false gods may sleep . . . in that they don’t answer or respond to people. Remember the story of Elijah? He challenged the priests of Baal and they all gathered together to see which god would answer by sending fire to consume the offerings. And when the priests of Baal called out nothing happened. And so Elijah taunted them saying of Baal – “Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened” – 1 Kings 18:27.

The true God may seem to be asleep in that God doesn’t appear to hear us. As the Psalmist prays – “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!” – Psalm 44:23. And there are times when we struggle with God in prayer and with God’s will and timing. And we ask, “Is God listening?!”

But, as our text tells us . . .

God Doesn’t Sleep!

  • God is always active and busy for our well being
  • God is awake and working, even while we sleep

So lets look at what this means: God is active for us even when we sleep

1. God watches over us as we sleep

When we sleep we are weak and vulnerable. So in Old Testament times you needed a watchman who stayed up during the night to look out for enemies and attack. Even if you lived in a walled city, there needed to be watchmen on the wall.

The night is also a time of evil. We know that “darkness” is used as an image of evil in Scripture. And we know that we are more susceptible to fear of the demonic at night.

The point of Psalm 121 in saying that God will not slumber is that God is watching over us to protects us. God is our watchman. Six times Psalm 121 says, in one way or another, that God will “keep us.” This means that:

  • God will oversee us as we sleep and are vulnerable
  • God will protect us from any evil of the darkness

Because of this we do not need to fear, but can have peace:
– Psalm 91:5 says, “You will not fear the terror of the night . . ..” Why? Because God is our refuge and fortress; our shelter, the Psalm tells us. It is like we are sleeping in God’s house.
– Our own Psalm 121:6 says, “The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.” The moon here is seen as a sinister or even demonic power. But God is our protector.

So we can sleep peacefully knowing that God is protecting us:

  • “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me” – Psalm 3:5. God kept him from danger.
  • “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:8.

2. God can minister to us in the night

We may be trying to rest, we might be asleep or half asleep, but God can do work in our lives.

Psalm 16:7 says, “I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.” Job 35:10 says, God gives “songs in the night.” 

And there are many examples in the scriptures of how God speaks to us in dreams. Job 33:15-16 says, “In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men, while they slumber on their beds, then God opens the ears of men and terrifies them with warnings.”

3. God provides for our needs as we sleep

Psalm 127:2 says, “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.” This last phrase can be translated differently. I prefer the alternative that shows up in some translations or the footnotes of others (NRSV) “he provides for his beloved during sleep.” This fits the context best.

The point of the verse is that we don’t need to wear ourselves out with our work. God is busy providing for our needs, even while we sleep.

And beyond our work – we can let go of our burdens and anxieties for tomorrow and next week and next month. We can let go and rest because God is busy working on all this even as we rest.

God is taking care of us 24/7 with no sleep, and no vacations. The point of all this is to say that God is always there for us!

Isn’t our God great in power that he needs no rest? And isn’t our God merciful to us, working on our behalf even as we sleep? Let us be thankful to the Lord. We serve a good and powerful God!

I would like us to end with a benediction based on Psalm 121:7-8: May the Lord keep you from all evil; May the Lord keep your life. May the Lord keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

William Higgins

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