The Gifts of Sleep
If we take the words of our text just as they stand, they are charged with deep and beautiful significance. They tell us what our own experience confirms, that sleep is the gift of God. The world has gifts which it gives to its favorite children. It loads them with wealth or with honor or with fame. But God deals otherwise with His beloved, for "He giveth to His beloved sleep." It would, of course, be very wrong to say that sleeplessness is a mark of the divine displeasure. A man may be wrapped in the gracious peace of God yet seek in vain the quieting of slumber. Yet is it true that sleep, when it is given, is such a medicine for weariness and travail that it can be nothing save the gift of love. I think of Jesus in the storm-tossed boat, asleep on the pillow when all were in wild alarm. I think of Peter fast asleep in prison, when the morrow was to see his execution. I think of the tired worker when comes nightfall and of the sufferer who has been racked through weary hours, and I learn how tenderly and deeply true is this: He giveth His beloved sleep. Nor can one ever ignore that sweetest of all suggestions wherein the word is whispered over the sleep of death. A thousand memories of shadow and of tears have flustered around that interpretation. It is when after life's fever one sleeps well, when the struggle has ended and quiet peace has fallen; it is then that love, through the mist of weeping, murmurs: "so He giveth His beloved sleep."
But though that is a comforting and blessed truth, it is not the true interpretation of the words. If you read the verse in relation to the context, you will see that that could hardly be the meaning. The psalmist is warning against that overwork which so surely degenerates into worry. He is picturing the man who overdrives himself until he has no leisure and no liberty. And all this pressure and feverish activity is not only in the sight of God a sin, it is also, says the ...
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