The Bible takes rest seriously.
In Genesis 2, after spending six days forming the earth, God rests “from all the work,” setting a sacred precedent. In Exodus 20:8-10, God instructs the Israelites to embrace patterns of rest. In Matthew 8:23-26, Jesus rests in a boat during a torrential downpour, despite tides rising and crashing against the boat’s hull, threatening to capsize the passengers. We can take comfort in this: If the son of God needed to take a break every now and then, so do we.
Rest is also essential if we aim to follow the biblical call to “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly” — work that is joyous, yes, but also exhausting. “The site of rest, the source of peace, and the offering of justice are one and the same,” writes Jeania Ree V. Moore in “Rest Is Resistance.” “This identity, reflected in Jesus, tells us something about how we can and should live in this moment. If our struggles preclude or exclude rest—If they are cultivating fear, anxiety, and a dwindling sense of hope—then we need to find a different way.”
Below, you’ll find 30 Bible verses on rest. Read through these words of radical rest, and then, maybe, just go take a nap.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible verses are quotes in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) translation.
Genesis 2:2-3 (The Inclusive Bible)
On the seventh day God had finished all the work of creation, and so, on that seventh day, God rested. God blessed the seventh day and called it sacred, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work.
Exodus 33:12-14 (NIV)
Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
1 Kings 5:4
But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side; there is neither adversary nor misfortune.
1 Kings 19:4-7
But [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”
And you will have confidence, because there is hope; you will be protected and take your rest in safety.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
Psalm 23:1-3 (The Inclusive Bible)
YHWH, you are my shepherd—I want nothing more. You let me lie down in green meadows; you lead me beside restful waters: you refresh my soul. You guide me to lush pastures for the sake of your Name.
Psalm 34:8 (The Inclusive Bible)
Taste and see how good YHWH is! Happiness comes to those who take refuge in YHWH.
Psalm 37:7 (The Inclusive Bible)
Be still before YHWH and wait patiently; don’t fret about those who amass great fortunes and carry out their schemes unchallenged.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”
My heart is in anguish within me, the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest; truly, I would flee far away; I would lodge in the wilderness; I would hurry to find a shelter for myself from the raging wind and tempest.”
Psalm 62:1 (The Inclusive Bible)
In God alone my soul finds rest, for my deliverance comes from God, who alone is my rock, my salvation, my fortress: I will never be shaken.
You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”
Psalm 127:2 (The Inclusive Bible)
In vain you get up early and stay up late, sweating to make a living, because God loves us and provides for us even while we sleep.
“But those who listen to me will be secure and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.”
My child, do not let these escape from your sight: keep sound wisdom and prudence, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely and your foot will not stumble. If you sit down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Better is a handful with quiet than two handfuls with toil, and a chasing after wind.
When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has ceased! How his insolence has ceased!
The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing.
But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
And they enter into peace; those who walk uprightly will rest on their couches.
And when [Jesus] got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Then [Jesus] said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath.”
[Jesus] said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 4:9-11 (The Inclusive Bible)
Therefore, there must still be a rest reserved for God’s people—the Sabbath rest. For all those who enter God’s rest also rest from their own work, just as God did. Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall by imitating the example of our ancestors’ disobedience.