bread of sorrows

Painful Labor

Here the ‘bread of sorrows’ is food earned with painful labor. Our work creates neither life nor righteousness. Relentless, compulsive work habits, which our society rewards and admires, are seen by the psalmist as a sign of weak faith and assertive pride-as if God could not be trusted to accomplish His will. As if we could rearrange the universe by our own effort. The sovereign intention of God is far more crucial to the outcome than man’s efforts.

What does make a difference is the personal relationships that we create and develop. We learn a name; we start a friendship; we follow up on a smile-or maybe even on a grimace. Nature is profligate with its seeds, scattering them everywhere; a few of them sprout. Out of numerous handshakes and greetings, some germinate and grow into friendship in Christ.

Commentary from Eugene H. Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Masterwork Bible study, Fall 2020, page 13. Also, the John MacArthur study Bible, notes for Psalm 127:2.