(if you are viewing this via email, the website has a recording of this poem and commentary; click the title above)
I’m going to lean heavily on the words of a theologian friend for this. Apparently, there are two words for “rest” that are often used in the Old Testament. One of those words is “nuach.” It was used in Genesis 2:15, where
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.Genesis 2:15
The words “put him” are that Hebrew verb nuach. (וַיִּקַּ֛ח יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהִ֖ים אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֑ם וַיַּנִּחֵ֣הוּ בְגַן־עֵ֔דֶן לְעָבְדָ֖הּ וּלְשָׁמְרָֽהּ׃).
The point my friend makes is that there is a difference between work–the kind of work that Adam did in the Garden before the Fall–and toil–the kind of work he did after the Fall.
The reference to sweat in this poem is misleading. As I understand it, we may sweat even when we’re celebrating God’s provision in Sabbath. Over the last several years, I did sweat a whole lot on the frequent long hikes that I took. But those hikes were as close as I’ve ever come to celebrating God’s provision in Sabbath. Because God had provided financially–was providing, and would provide–I was able to rest, to spend hours walking, thinking, listening through the Bible repeatedly, listening to many other edifying books, observing nature, and recording my observations. That’s when I began writing poetry… in those Sabbath hikes.
You can view my friend’s discussion of Sabbath here:
The background image for my poem is is a painting by 18th century artist Johann Wenzel Peter.