Unless the Lord Builds the House (Part 2)

Deep Sleep for the Beloved

God is building a house.  God is watching over the city.  The city, the place where people live, is another metaphor that describes the family, the little society that God is building.  He not only builds, he also watches over it to protect it from the dangers that threaten it.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early
    and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;

Psalm 127:2

We work hard to care for and protect our families.  We look for a job with a good income and work hard at it to provide a living for our families.  We put on seatbelts when we drive in the car, put the kids in car seats. We look to find the best medical care for our family members.  We install locks on our doors to protect our families from unwanted intruders. This is all good.

But there are threats to our family from which we are helpless to protect ourselves.  Economic shifts can suddenly put people out of work. A collision with a drunk driver can kill us even when we are wearing our seatbelts.  There are diseases that baffle doctors and cannot be cured. A flood or a tornado can destroy our house in a moment.

Social and spiritual illnesses threaten our families.  No fault divorce laws mean that either spouse can call it quits in marriage for any reason.  Effectively that means that our legal system sees no moral reason to encourage couples to stay married when they experience problems in their relationship.  Addiction to doctor prescribed drugs, not to mention illegal drugs, addiction to alcohol, pornography, computer games is now widespread. Mental illness troubles many families in various degrees and forms. No family is exempt from these threats.

We are unable to protect our families and ourselves from countless threats.  We can do much, but there are no fail-safe strategies. In spite of these threats, we have a great assurance knowing that we are kept safe by an unseen Protector.


 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.

Psalm 127:2

Hard work is a good thing, but it doesn’t guarantee success.  Under certain conditions even those who work very, very hard come up short.  But after doing everything we can to provide for our families, we can lie down and go to sleep in peace at night with complete trust that our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask him.  He is at work building and protecting our household. God is our homeland security.

When God was looking for a companion suited for Adam, he created animals and gave them to Adam to see what Adam would call them.  To each one, Adam gave a name, but none of the animals fully answered Adam’s longing for a companion. Then God caused a deep sleep to come over Adam and he took one of Adam’s ribs to form a woman.  He gave her to Adam, and Adam burst out in enthusiastic gratitude “At last! This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh!” Finally, Adam had met his match. They became husband and wife.

The fact that God performed surgery on Adam after causing him to fall into a deep sleep tells us that here we are dealing with a profound mystery.  Adam did nothing. He was asleep. God did everything. He created a companion for Adam perfectly suited to his need for help.

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes about this. “This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:32-33)  

In just the mysterious way that God created Eve from the sleeping Adam’s rib, God also gives us the gifts of one another and mysteriously protects us every night we lay down to sleep in our beds.  We are helpless and completely passive when we sleep. God wondrously protects us. He cares for us because he is the “Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Ephesians 3:14-15) He creates each family as a place for his love to be known and shared. He designs each family to be a light shining in a dark world.  We can rest in the knowledge of his great love. He gives to his beloved sleep.

Donald Marsden

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