Theology in the unlikely places

Divine Insomnia


“…He who keeps (watches) you will not slumber.  Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep”. Psalms 121: 3,4

Ambush at night was not an uncommon military tactic in those days. Attacking the enemy when they are fast asleep gave an unfair advantage to the attacker. Fairness was not the first thought in an ancient warrior’s mind when it came to the battlefield. Even the strongest soldier succumbed to this weakness called sleep.  As a proof, pages of history are littered with many costly naps that toppled kingdoms.  At a time when a single night could change the king into a slave, the Psalmist sings a song to remind the Israelites of a God who never sleeps.  It’s not just that He doesn’t sleep but when He is not sleeping, He is watching over the nation of Israel.

As I am reading this ancient text some 3000 years later, the God of Israel without a circadian rhythm of day/night sleep cycle is not an element of surprise to me.  My understanding of this God as a Spirit from the New Testament peels away many layers of anthropomorphism.  In other words, my God doesn’t sleep – not because He is suffering from insomnia but because, unlike me, He doesn’t need to sleep.  But here’s why this psalm leaves me in absolute awe. I had to ask myself these two questions

1) Why does this magnificent God, who created the entire universe bother to watch over me, a cosmic speck?
2) What would become of me if He slumbered or failed to watch over me?

I do not know the answer to the first question but because I know the answer to the second question, I owe Him my life!

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