Psalms 121:3: “Behold, he that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.”
Many years ago when I taught school in Arlington, Virginia , which bordered Washington D.C., I took a room in a house with three other borders. One was an engineer working on the new rapid transit system for Washington, D.C., the other work for the CIA (never saw much of him as he was always on business out of the country), and a third who worked for the secret service in the White House., Whenever he was off duty, he was sleeping. I asked him if he ever got drowsy while on duty guarding the White House. He looked at me as if I just swore at him and said: “If you were responsible for the life the most important and most powerful man in the world, would get drowsy?” I had to think on that one. Being a teacher I knew if I do not keep my classes interesting I would be hearing a wide variety of snoring among my students and sometimes I did.
No matter how tired you get, if you are involved in something stimulating or some interesting activity, you will under most circumstances be able to overcome drowsiness. I recall working a couple jobs and going over 40 hours without sleep and never once getting drowsy as I was active the whole time. I also know what it was like to get consistent 8-10 hours sleep and to sit in a boring classroom counting sheep rather than mathematical formulas.
Some years ago I worked the midnight shift as a security guard for a high rise apartment building. I was very tired and was fighting sleep. As I caught myself dosing, I began to think of those words, “If you were responsible for the life of he most important and powerful man in the world, would get drowsy?” I was “guarding” a building filled with Newscasters, soap opera actors, athletes, lawyers, physicians, etc.” Sure these were people ordinary human beings who happened to achieve the ultimate success in their chosen field just like the President of the White House, only no one was gunning for the news anchor of Channel 9 News, or some soap opera character. So with practically zero threat, I found myself getting drowsy. But if my supervisor gave me notice that the newscaster had a fatwa of death ordered for some news report she gave and I was to be on alert for some bearded, white robed guys with long curved knives, I don’t think I would have gotten very drowsy on the job.
So on the surface, the fact that God neither slumbers or sleeps for Israel, those he deeply loves, the very nature of these words indicates that he takes his job and the threat against those he loves very seriously.
The word keep in Hebrew is shamer which means to guard and watch over. For the one who guards Israel He neither slumbers or sleeps. The Bible makes it clear in the New Testament that even gentiles who love Him are brought under the umbrella of Israel. So the one who guards Israel is guarding me. But this is a guard who takes his job so seriously that he will not slumber or sleep.
Slumber in Hebrew is num which means to be drowsy, to sleep but lightly sleep such that you are easily awakened. Examining this word’s built in commentary I discover that it is spelled Nun, Vav, Mem. The Nun suggest that slumber comes from being blocked off or having you attention diverted. I may allow God to nod off every so often, but one thing I would not want is for his attention to be diverted for even a moment. As I pass through the valleys of life I know God is not sleeping but sometimes I wonder if His attention is diverted away from me and in that moment the enemy could jumped in and got his grubby hands on me. Not so according to the word num. That Nun tells me that his attention is never diverted from me. Check out the Vav. The Vav is described as a hook, or dependency upon someone or something. The Vav is our connection to God from earth to heaven, from the flesh to the spiritual. If God never num or slumbers then he will never allow his connection with us to be severed by some distraction or diversion. Finally, and this I love, the word slumber ends with a Mem. The Mem’s shadow shows a drowning in destructive passion. God will never allow any destructive passion to separate us from His watch. No matter what God thinks or feels about our life style or sins, that will not influence his watch care over us.
Years ago when President Regan was shot and taken into the operating room, he looked up at his surgeons and said: “I hope you guys are Republicans.” The surgeon replied: “Mr. President, right now we are all Republicans.” I asked my Secret Service roommate one time if being a Republican had any effect on guarding a Democratic President. That was not a good question to ask him, even as a joke. Just as politics had no bearing on my roommate’s duties, so too, the Mem tells me that no sin nor anything we do would have a bearing on God’s watch care over us.
I may fall deeply into sin, but having been cleansed by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ God will still God will not slumber in his watch care over me. He will not num (slumber), or let his attention be distracted from me (Nun), server his connection with me (Vav) nor will he allow sin to influence his watch care over me. After all I have a big advantage with my Divine Body Guard that the President does not have with his body guard who may disagree with his politics and that is My Body Guard died on the cross for anything sins or adverse politics I might have with Him. Come to think of it, our President does have the same Body Guard if he wants it, regardless of his politics. That Mem belongs to him just as much to me, all he has to do is ask for it.
Oh, by the way, I just noticed that num is in a Jussive form which makes it permissive. God will not allow Himself to slumber. Slumber sometimes sneaks up on you. It may sneak up on a pilot flying a plane, a soldier on guard duty, a mother with her baby, but with God, slumber is in a jussive form, he will not allow or permit it to happen, it just will not happen.