Man and His Labor

“Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.” (Psalm 104:23)

The 104th Psalm is a beautiful psalm of creation and the Flood, supplemented by God’s providential care of His creatures in the post-Flood world. Our text makes man’s activity seem almost incidental in the grand scope of God’s activities on behalf of His whole creation.

Nevertheless, it reminds us of God’s first great commission to mankind concerning that creation. “Have dominion . . . over all the earth . . . to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 1:26; 2:15). This primeval mandate, though still in effect as man’s stewardship responsibility for the earth and its creatures, has been seriously impacted by sin and the curse. “Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” God told Adam; “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” (Genesis 3:17, 19).

And so it is that men and women must work, and the work often is laborious, stressful, and unappreciated. Yet, the divine rule is “that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands . . . That ye may walk honestly . . . and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). “For . . . if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Thus, labor is necessary, even for those who don’t know the Lord. But it is far better if we work not just to earn a living but to please the Lord. “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23).

Whatever our job is (assuming it is honorable), it can be regarded as serving Christ and helping to fulfill His primeval-dominion commandment, and even as helping to lead others to know Him. Therefore, whether the work is easy or hard, we should be “always abounding in the work of the Lord . . . your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). HMM

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