In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
I still remember one of the prayers my mom and dad would recite with me at bedtime when I was a child:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep;
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
I am reminded of that long-ago prayer when I read Psalm 4:8, and it makes sense coming from the pen of David. There would have been much to keep him awake at night. David was on the run from King Saul, who was seeking to kill him; that knowledge could have kept David from getting a good night’s rest if he had allowed his mind to wander away from his God. Years later, David’s son Absalom tried to wrest the throne of Israel from his father, and this too would have been cause for insomnia. But David refused to let the circumstances in life shift his focus away from his God.
We live in a sleep-deprived culture. We are bombarded with information that pours in on us through advancing technology, 24-hour headline news, and a cell phone that is on constant alert. When we finally turn off every electronic device and crawl into bed at night, it is the first time we are experiencing a measure of silence . . . and the sound of that silence can be deafening!
This was not the case with David. When he would lie down at night, he looked to God to disrupt his distress and distractions and deliver him over to a restful sleep. The key for David during the sound of silence was to set his heart on things above. “You have filled my heart with greater joy,” he wrote, and he refused to focus on things below, such as “when their grain and new wine abound” (Psalm 4:7). Some commentators have identified this psalm as “A Night Prayer.”
Do you see the difference in David’s experience of joy? His confident focus on things above was rooted in God. If we focus on things below, the condition of our hearts is at the mercy of circumstances. David’s focus was well beyond the reach of circumstances because he knew that when we focus on God, we experience an inner joy that produces a peace that passes all understanding. Regardless of what David was facing in life, he kept his focus on God, and he became known as “the man after God’s own heart,” who would lie down in peace and sleep in safety.
Is this the confession of your life when you lie down at night? It can be if you will center your mind on Christ and not on your circumstances. Remember, when we finally get past all of the distractions of the day and close our eyes to sleep, God does not. God is on watch so that we don’t need to be. If you lie still for a moment, you just might hear Him whisper, “Rest well in your redemption, my child. I will keep watch tonight.”
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!