In Eccl. 5:12 we read: The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. Many are those who lose sleep worrying about bills. The visions of looming debt and hardship often chases sleep away. Were there enough money then perhaps sleep would come.
Yet our text speaks of the wealthy being unable to sleep. One has to wonder why those with no financial worries would be unable to sleep. Solomon, in his great wisdom, is teaching us another valuable lesson. Money, in and of itself, will not bring peace of mind. Perhaps the rich person is unable to sleep due to fear that his wealth may disappear. Indeed, “…riches make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward Heaven” ( Prov. 23:5 ). The rich man may lose sleep over fear that somewhere there is someone with more wealth. He may stay awake trying to imagine more ways to garner more wealth. Or he may live in constant fear that there are those among his family or acquaintances who would rid this world of his presence to attain his possessions. Many are the reasons for lack of sleep among those who love their possessions.
It is not money which brings peace of mind or rest for the body. Such comes only from “the peace that passeth understanding” of which Paul spoke in Philippians 4:7. This great apostle spoke of need and plenty in Philippians 2 and came to the conclusion that he had learned “in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” It is not wealth, nor poverty, that brings the gentle sleep. Rather it is the contentment which comes from serving Our Lord.
Tim L. Long