I'm drawn today to this phrase in the third verse of Psalm 127: "for he gives sleep to his beloved." (NRSV translation) I think we all seek to know and experience that kind of rest--the kind of sleep that comes when we know we are fully loved and fully protected--and we cherish it when it comes.
But I learned that the original Hebrew is a little unclear; and so other translations, like from the Jewish Publication Society, say: "He provides as much for His loved ones while they sleep." Or in the REB: "he supplies the need of those he loves."
Maybe the ambiguity encompasses the breadth of God's provision: God both gives us rest from our anxiousness and weariness, AND God is at work while we sleep, supplying all that we need.
Here is an evening prayer that captures all of this:
I will lie down in peace and take my rest,
for in God alone I dwell unafraid.
Be present, merciful God,
and protect us through the silent hours of this night,
so that we who are wearied
by the changes and chances of this fleeting world
may rest in your eternal changelessness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
1 Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.
3 Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.