A little boy came to his mother, saying, "Mamma, I am as tall as Goliath; I am nine feet high."  "What makes you say that?" asked the surprised mother. "Well, I made a ruler and measured myself with it, and I am just nine feet high!" 

There are many people who follow the little boy's method, measuring themselves by some rule of their own.  How are you measuring yourself?

(Psa 127:1 NKJV)  Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.

Psalm 127 is one of two psalms written by Solomon.  Solomon was given a special blessing of wisdom from the Lord.  Using the wisdom God supernaturally granted him, coupled with the experienced gained in life, Solomon concluded that everything is vain or meaningless if the Lord is not in it.

Solomon knew what he was writing about. In the book of Ecclesiastes 1:12-2:11, Solomon shares with his readers that he “devoted himself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven.” (1:13) He experimented by experiencing all the pleasures that life had to offer like wine, women, and song.  He enjoyed feelings of success and accomplishment as he worked on projects like construction, farming, gardening, and irrigation systems. Solomon had thousands of slaves, herds and flocks and had amassed silver and gold and other treasures fit only for a king.  Solomon wrote in chapter two, “I acquired men and women singers, and a harem as well--the delights of the heart of man.” Notice how he summarizes his self-indulgence:

(Eccl 2:9 NIV)  I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me. In all this my wisdom stayed with me.
(Eccl 2:10 NIV)  I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor.
(Eccl 2:11 NIV)  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

This is why Solomon could write in Psalm 127:1, "Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it…".

The Hebrew verb for “to build" is banah (baw-naw).  There is a beautiful picture in the Hebrew language of the O.T. which is lost in translation. The Hebrew word for son is ben (bane) and the Hebrew word for daughter is bath (bath).  These two words are similar to the Hebrew verb banah, meaning "to build."

To the Israelite a “house” was an opportunity to "build" sons and daughters.  One works at building a family just as one works at building a building. Solomon is telling us that it is vain or meaningless to build sons and daughters without the Lord.

Also note the change in subjects in the first two lines of verse one. In the first line it is the Lord who builds; in the second line the subject is "they." This means that parents must team up with God in the building of a Christian home. God does the building, but He does it through parents.

The Bible teaches us that God is the Architect of the family.  He has designed the family and has left us the Bible as the "blueprints" for the instruction on how to build a family. Sadly, the business man today, as with so many other of his ventures, brushes God's blueprints aside and attempts to figure out this "family thing" on his own.

Solomon's outlook on life was based on the Lord.  Towards the end of a life full of trying other blueprints and other yardsticks, he came to the conclusion that "Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it…"

Solomon goes on to write in Psalm 127:2, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat-- for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Solomon is telling us that working long days without God's provision and support is fruitless.

It is like the father who works hard to give his family the finer things of life.  He is spending hundreds of dollars each month on rent or mortgage, luxury cars, dining out, smart phones and computers, designer clothes and cable TV. While there is nothing wrong with having these things, many businessmen make the mistake of thinking that the attainment of these things means he is successful as a husband and father. 

If he should get behind on his bills, he begins to use plastic credit.  When the financial pressures continue to mount, he (according to his measuring rod) works another job in order to maintain his inflated standard of living and his wife feels pressured to work in order to maintain her emotional security and sanity.

This father, as Solomon says in verse two, gets up early in the morning to go to his first job and then he retires late at night after getting home from his second job.

An internet blogger posted and article which began this way, “I used to be the kind of sleeper who didn’t even think about falling asleep because it happened so quickly. But then I started a business . . . and needless to say, my sleep habits changed. These days, I’m not counting sheep, I’m counting inventory.” She then goes on to give tips on how to prevent insomnia such as, “Don’t check email after 7pm”, “Stick to non-business entertainment”. “create some white noise”, and “shower at night”.

Notice at the end of verse two of our text Solomon writes: "-- for he (God) grants sleep to those he loves."  Why would the Holy Spirit move Solomon to put that statement there?  I believe he does so because this kind of lifestyle breeds anxiety, worry and sleeplessness.

The National Sleep Foundation's Sleep in America Poll showed that more than one half of the respondents (58%) reported having experienced at least one of the four symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week. In fact, 35% say that they experience at least one of the four symptoms of insomnia every night or almost every night in the past year.  

The four symptoms of insomnia are defined as:

  • Difficulty falling asleep.
  • Waking a lot during the night.
  • Waking up too early and not being able to get back to sleep.
  • Waking up feeling unrefreshed.

Insomnia and fatigue are now considered America's top health problems. Researchers have identified lack of sleep as a cause of serious disorders ranging from diabetes to high stress levels. The results show that it is taking a huge toll on the quality of life -- and the health -- of millions.[1] 

Lack of sleep can be expensive: The National Commission on Sleep Disorders estimates that sleep deprivation costs $150 billion a year in higher stress and reduced workplace productivity. It may also lead to personal and public tragedy. There are indications that the Challenger disaster, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown and the Exxon Valdez oil spill can all be partly linked to people suffering from a severe lack of sleep.[2]

The NASB translates Psalm 127:2 this way: "It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep." This version helps us to see that God is working on the Christian’s behalf even as we sleep.  Worry and anxiety is a leading cause of sleeplessness.  But this verse tells us that we can sleep--because we have trusted in the Lord to supply our needs as we do family His way.

This perspective corresponds with the saying of Jesus recorded in Matthew 6:25-34.  According to the promise of Jesus--if the businessman seeks the Lord first and has been living a righteous life (that is, a life lived by God's measuring rule), God has promised to supply all his needs.  Because God is supplying all your needs, you need not be anxious, and because you are not anxious, you can sleep!

The Scripture connects a deep abiding trust in the Lord with the ability to sleep.  Psalm 4:8, says, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For Thou alone, O LORD, dost make me to dwell in safety.” (See also Proverbs 3:24-26; 19:23)

Let me leave you with a tried, tested, and proven remedy for insomnia: Prayer and worship.

I remember being told many years ago that oftentimes it is Satan and his demons that are behind one’s inability to sleep. We find in 1Samuel 16:14 that because of King Saul’s rebellion the Lord allowed an evil spirit (or demon) to distress him.  I imagine this spirit was robbing sleep from Saul because whenever the demon left him, he was described as “refreshed and well” (vs. 23).

The evil spirit only left when Saul sent for David who played his lyre. In 2 Samuel 23:1 David is described as “the sweet psalmist of Israel.” Hymnwriter John Wesley, writes that the sweet psalmist David was known, “for composing sweet and holy songs to the praise of God”.

Having trouble sleeping businessman?  Pray and worship.  Trust God to provide.  Here’s a link to a song that I occasionally sing to remind myself that God is in control: Pray Now.

[1] http://www.innerself.com/Health/sleeping_enough.htm