What the Bible Says about SleepText: Ecclesiastes 5:12

Sleep is one of the few activities that all humans participate in each day. Our health, mood, mental ability, and performance of tasks depend on the quantity and quality of sleep. The Bible speaks of sleep – both literally and figuratively. In this lesson, we will consider four types of sleep discussed in Scripture.

Sleep of Physical Rest

  • Sleep is good when used for its proper purpose – for rest from a day of productivity (Ecclesiastes 5:12); for rest in order to promote healing during an illness (John 11:11-12)
  • Sleep following productivity is pleasant (Ecclesiastes 5:12) – lack of sleep is not pleasant, good, or desirable (2 Corinthians 11:27); it is expected that we work (2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 5:8; Proverbs 31:27); godly people, if able-bodied, should be productive (Exodus 20:8-10); pleasant sleep implies contentment (Philippians 4:11-13) and peace (Matthew 6:34)
  • Sleep can also help one recover from an illness (John 11:12) – when we are sick, we need to take time to rest and recover (Matthew 8:14-15); we may even need to give up certain plans so we can be useful in the future (2 Timothy 4:20)

Sleep of Slothfulness

  • The sluggard sleeps as well as the working man, but for different reasons
  • Slothfulness leads to poverty (Proverbs 20:13) – the ant prepares without needed to be told what to do (Proverbs 6:6-11); sleep is good, but the sluggard sleeps too long (Proverbs 6:9)
  • Slothfulness gets progressively worse (Proverbs 26:13-16) – first, someone makes excuses (v. 13); second, slothfulness leads to more sleep (v. 14); third, the simplest tasks become a burden (v. 15); all the while, the sluggard refuses to admit his foolishness or see his fault (v. 16)
  • This type of sleep wastes what little time we have – some things must be done NOW (Proverbs 28:19; 20:4); we must make the most of our time (Ephesians 5:16); this means working from our youth (Lamentations 3:27; Proverbs 20:29)

Sleep of Unpreparedness

  • Not literal sleep – this is the state of being oblivious to the dangers that threaten us (Revelation 3:1-3); for our purposes, we will focus on SPIRITUAL dangers
  • Unprepared for the threat of sin (1 Peter 5:8) – sin can easily entangle us if we allow it (Hebrews 12:1)
  • Unprepared for the treat of false teachers (Romans 16:17-18) – if we are unsuspecting, we can be deceived
  • Unprepared for our own death (Luke 12:19-20) – this could come at anytime (James 4:14)
  • Unprepared for Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 5:1-8) – we must always be on the alert (Matthew 24:42)

Sleep of Death

  • Death is often described in the Bible as “sleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14) – this emphasizes the temporary nature of death (Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13)
  • This is where we are all headed (Hebrews 9:27) – unless the Lord returns first (1 Thessalonians 4:15)
  • This sleep provides rest from our labors (Revelation 14:13) – our spiritual obligations last until death
  • This is rest for the faithful (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) – not the wicked (Revelation 14:11)


  • God designed us to sleep – we need to use this for good, not abuse it
  • It is also an illustration to encourage us to be prepared for what comes after this life – because death is temporary, we must be ready for what comes next (Ephesians 5:14-16)

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