Psalm 127:2 says:
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.
What is this verse saying ? What’s the point it’s making ? ….that we’re not suppose to try hard, work hard ?
No it’s making a finer point than that.It’s a comment about how we work rather than work itself.
The preceeding verse ( verse 1) makes the point that unless we ultimately depend on God our efforts are vain. Being solely dependent on ourselves doesn’t work. Though we should do our part that isn’t enough to make us truly safe and secure. We will only experience safety and security by reliance on God.
This verse continues that thought. If we see ourselves solely responsible for our financial and material security it will create a pressure in our life so that we are driven. As the verse says we’ll be up early at one end of the day and up late at the the other “eating the bread of sorrows” or as another version puts it ” eating the bread of anxious toil”, robbing us of sleep.
This verse is not against toil and work. It’s against anxious toil, anxious work. It’s against being driven in our work., because we believe ourselves to be the ultimate source of provision, rather than God. God calls us to work, but to do so in partnership with Him, knowing as we do our smaller, lesser part He does the larger part giving us the strength, ability and opportunity to work as well as guiding us how much to work. He motivates us to provide for our needs rather than being driven to provide for all that culture and society say we need.
Working in partnership with God is a very different experience to working alone. With God we ” eat the bread of….” rest and peace, on our own we ” eat the bread of sorrows ” …meaning there’s anxiety, fretting associated with our work.
We may have more but we live less, driven by a relentless pressure to work.
The bread of sorrows is the pressure, the angst we experience for any aspect of our provision and well being, when we trust only in ourselves to provide.