Sleep and Adam Clarke

Pro 20:13 Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty; open your eyes, and you will have plenty of bread.

This passage of Scripture is important in our culture. We write more about sleep in news and science journals than pretty much any other culture and yet we seem to sleep less. I’m wondering if our love for sleep mixed with a love of not ‘missing out’ on what ever we’re staying up to do has caused us to have less sleep than the compilers and authors of Proverbs assume we need while also causing us to love sleep/idleness to the point of the average individual being unproductive.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 notes that “…sweet is the sleep of a laborer…” but perhaps there’s just not much labor going on. And earlier in Proverbs 3:24 it is noted that whoever has discretion and wisdom will have sweet sleep. So maybe we also do not show discretion with our time.

Adam Clarke noted this in his commentary on the whole Bible:

Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty – Sleep, indescribable in its nature, is an indescribable blessing; but how often is it turned into a curse! It is like food; a certain measure of it restores and invigorates exhausted nature; more than that oppresses and destroys life. A lover of sleep is a paltry, insignificant character.

Is it possible that our fascination with sleep, our love of sleeping in, and our obsession with understanding how to get enough sleep stems from:

  1.  The fact that very few of us actually do very much.
  2.  The lack of discretion used in our culture. 

I should probably do some checks on sleep studies to see if there is a noted correlation in modern research literature, but at least in the Ancient world over sleeping and poor sleeping were often associated with bad decisions and laziness.

Note: I am aware that insomnia can rob one of sleep for no apparent reason. Though I have discovered that using the same relaxing techniques I learned in karate class as a young man have helped me over come my difficulty sleeping. When I was in high school and early college I would often sit up doing nothing until it was time to go to work or school in the morning because I just couldn’t sleep. The point is that insomnia appears to have no moral correlate at all. I hope my post helps those whose sleep struggles are otherwise. 


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