Psalm 3:5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
Have you ever had those times where it seems like the “bad guys” are winning? Times when your adversaries, your tormentors, those who would like to see you harmed are not only prevailing, they seem to be having fun making your life miserable.
No matter how tough you have it today, King David probably had it worse. That’s why I love the Psalms so much. It puts things in perspective. David was King, a “man after God’s own heart”, but spent much of his time dodging guys who wanted to kill him, enemies who wanted him ruined, and family members who broke his heart.
David knew, and expressed, the depths of emotional pain and heartaches. If you are experiencing trials and troubles, Psalms is for you. You will find throughout its wonderful chapters expressions that not only voice your broken heart to God in ways that you may have been afraid to utter, but you will also find great encouragement and hope. David was incomparable at communicating the human experience, and even more adept at leading us straight to God no matter how hard things may be.
There is a simple little verse in Psalms 3 that is quite easy to read past without a second thought. But it is a verse that has been of great comfort to me on many occasions:
Psalm 3:5 I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. (NKJV)
“I lay down and slept”. How many times have you been so troubled that first of all, it seemed almost impossible to fall asleep, even if you tried? And, have you ever been so troubled that you didn’t even want to go to sleep afraid that things might be even worse when you awoke, or that there simply was no time to sleep because you needed to get busy solving the problem at hand?
Look at the point King David had come to. The number of people troubling him and the intensity of his problems was increasing dramatically (Psalms 3.1). He wasn’t just having personal, private difficulties… there were people out to ruin and kill him (3.1b).
David was also being taunted and made fun of which I think is especially hard to endure, particularly when people insult God because of you. In verse 2, we find that many people were saying something like “look at Mr.-God-chose-you-to-be-King… you talk about how God is on your side, and look at you! God’s not helping you! God’s obviously against you!”.
Have you ever been in the midst of tough times and have people declare that God “obviously” doesn’t care about you? Or worse, that you must not really love God, or else He would be helping you.
God appears to be allowing evil to prosper while His children suffer and are made fun of. It can rip your heart out. But in spite of that, look at David’s response:
Psalm 3:3 But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. (NKJV)
No matter what people say, or how we feel, or how hard the situation is, God is our Shield. He is our glory, and He can lift our head (encourage us) if only we will see things from an eternal perspective. If we will turn to God and believe what He says instead of believing our circumstances or the voices of our enemies. King David continues:
Psalm 3:4 I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. (NKJV)
God is our Father. He loves us. What loving father (and remember that God is perfect love) ignores the cry and pain of his hurting children? The problem is that typically we want to see an immediate, easy solution. We want the pain to end, our enemies to perish and our lives to be comfortable. God, in His perfect love, perfect knowledge and perfect plan knows that there are times for quick solutions… and there times for other more hidden and sometimes even painful processes that need to occur.
In the end though, we can trust that God knows perfectly well what is best for us, and He will protect us, care for us and sustain us while His perfect will for our life is being orchestrated. David knew this and was able to say:
Psalm 3:5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. (NKJV)
In this simple statement there is much to consider:
- To stop and lay down is a physical act of ceasing personal control of the situation
- Tired and hurting emotions can benefit greatly from rest
- Anxiousness will cease when we truly trust that God is in control and will sustain us
- It shows trust in God to put aside troubles for a while and rest
- It demonstrates spiritual maturity to know when to rest, and to be able to rest despite circumstances
- David could have been literally killed while he slept, but he trusted God for protection
- We are most vulnerable while we sleep, but we trust God to care for us and sustain us
- We can not control many things that happen to us, and being able to sleep is an indication that we have handed those things over to God (at least momentarily)
- Sleep is a God-given gift and is necessary for health and re-energizing the spirit
Notice however that we are not talking about a sleep that is an “escape”. Sleep that is merely a short, exhausted time of ignoring the problem so we can get the energy to continue our worrying or anxious control is not the type of sleep this verse implies. Nor is there much benefit in an alcohol or drug induced sleep brought on for the sheer purpose of relieving the stress temporarily (don’t read more into that than I intend. I am not making a definitive statement that medicated sleep is wrong, or that someone drinking a glass of wine to help them relax is the pinnacle of sin. I simply mean that the common tendency of mankind to seek “pharmaceutical relief” from life’s problems, is nothing but a temporary delay at best; and will make things even worse in many cases).
In short, I think I can best make my point by writing out for you the things I typically pray when I am in the midst of needing some God-given, stress-relieving, faith-building sleep:
Things are really, really tough right now. It’s seems like my troubles are only getting harder, and multiplying. There are wicked people laughing at me because it seems like eveyrthing is going their way, and they are having an easy time making my life difficult.
It seems that the wicked prosper, while Your children suffer. Sometimes they say that You must be mad at me, or You wouldn’t be letting this happen. Some of them say I’m stupid for believing in You at all. They say I must be hiding secret sin because You are punishing me. Worst of all, they say that it’s obvious I’m not even a true Christian because if I was, all this wouldn’t be happening.
But God, You are my shield, my defender, my protector… You are my glory, and the one who lifts up my head during these tough times. I don’t always understand Your timing, but I know that You will never leave me, nor forsake me. I know that whatever You choose to allow is for my ultimate good, and that it is the perfect thing that I need in my life.
And I know that You are righteous and just. You will right all wrongs, punish all wickedness and reward all good. I don’t know exactly when, but I know that You will. Help me to pray for my enemies, bless those that perscute me and mistreat me. Help me to be burdened for the souls of the very people that are being evil.
So Lord, help me to get some rest now because You are in control, not me. Help me to get some peaceful sleep and cast my cares on You, being anxious for nothing. I know that You will take care of me while I rest. And when I wake up Lord, shower me with Your mercies and faithfulness which are new and fresh every morning so that I may be even more steadfast and sure in my love and commitment to serve You.
And thank You for King David. Like him, may I be a “man after God’s own heart”.
In Jesus Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you ever find it hard to sleep because things are tough? Have you ever tried asking God to grant you some peaceful sleep? Have you ever by choice asked God to take your burdens from you so that you can rest? Do you think that not resting, get little sleep or poor sleep does anything to HELP the situation? Then why do it?
Application: I know that its hard sometimes to “let go” in the midst of the storm. Sleep can be very elusive, but I will stick my neck out and say from personal experience that in general, if you cannot sleep because of anxiety or worry, you are probably not trusting God. “Yeah, but you don’t know my situation!!!”. Believe me, I’ve had my share of troubles. And I know people who have had suffering that most of us will NEVER come close to… and yet they found peaceful sleep by a willful choice to trust God. You never know until you try.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?