The Sweet Sleep of Peace

“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lordsustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.” (Psalm 3:5-6)

“If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes, for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Proverbs 3:24-26)

Many of my friends have trouble sleeping through the night. Some of us can’t get to sleep without aids, and even then our bodies resist giving in to shut-eye. Some of us don’t stay asleep for very long before waking up, and then have the challenge of getting back to sleep. We could understand this better if we have stressful jobs or unresolved problems that aggravate us. But, unlike David and Solomon, many of us are retired with good support systems and faith in God to meet our needs and those of others. David was faced with life-threatening attacks from his enemies who wanted nothing more than to destroy him and his people. In Psalm 3 he expresses his confidence in God’s protection while he slept, enabling him to get to sleep and making it sweet. In Proverbs, his son Solomon proclaims that the one who trusts the Lord will have a lovely rest, being peaceful and unafraid of those who may want to harm him. 

In Psalm 3, David “calls to mind the variety of ways in which God has cared for him in the past, and how he was able in faith to sleep peacefully in the face of danger. These past experiences build his confidence for the present, enabling him to walk by faith and not by sight.” (1) Since the Lord had personally proved Himself, David had nothing to fear and was able to give in to his fatigue. And after spending his day defending himself from his enemies, even his son, who betrayed him, he was probably bone-weary tired. Here we may find one difference between him and us—we don’t fight against our enemies as we should. David could identify individuals, armies, and nations who were against him. We have the world and its values, Satan, and ourselves with which to contend. 

For the last five weeks, my body has seemed to be against me—the scar tissue in my new knee is stubbornly holding on and is refusing to be stretched out and broken up. I painfully work every day to loosen it, but I am making little progress. As I began to wonder what bad habits and spiritual lethargy I should also be struggling against, it occurred to me that I have been procrastinating about writing about peace here. Why? Because I don’t feel peaceful; I feel challenged, tried, tired, and frustrated—and I am tired of fighting. So here is where I am doing battle to regain the peace I need with God while struggling—because biblical peace is not the absence of trouble.

We may wait for our circumstances to lighten up, for a vacation, or something to work out in our favor for better sleep. Should I wait until my knee is better before expecting to sleep well? That is not the sweet sleep that Solomon is referring to. “Thy sleep shall be sweet; free of all uneasy thoughts and cares, sound and refreshing, pleasant and comfortable, like that of the laboring man…be not afraid of sudden fear, of anything terrible that comes unawares, unthought of…or by any rumors and reports of danger being near at hand; always think thyself safe in the arms of Wisdom, and under the care of Israel’s keeper, who neither slumbers nor sleeps.” (2) The pleasantness of God’s protection and providence is the balm that helps us go to sleep and finds us waking with a delightful spirit and grateful heart. This God does during a troublesome time in the world, in financial markets, and between political adversaries, not to mention companies going out of business creating huge job losses and raging wildfires and storms. 

What will it take for you to lie down with calmness and peace and to wake with satisfaction? Will you fight the influences that steal your peace rather than give in to them? What fears, insecurities, doubts, or questions can you leave with the Lord to have the peace he promises for those who trust in him? “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.” (Psalm 56:3-4)

(1) ESV Study Bible Notes, Psalm 3:3-6, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.

(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 3:24-25, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-3.html

January 25, 2019

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