A Biblical Approach to Worry and Sleep

Keith Crosby

"Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!  O men, how long shall my honor be turned into shame? How long will you love vain words and seek after lies? Selah  But know that the LORD has set apart the godly for himself; the LORD hears when I call to him.  Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah.  Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the LORD.  There are many who say, "Who will show us some good? Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!"  You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.  In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety."  Psalm 4:1-8

I love the Psalms. I hope you do, too---or will come to do so. The Psalms were hymns of worship in ancient Israel. King David wrote many of them. Usually, in a Psalm it is either outright praise, or eventual praise that arises when the psalmist is confronting and working through a problem. The latter types begin in distress and end in joy and rest.

Psalm 4 is such a Psalm. Psalm 4 begins with the Psalmist in distress. He is being attacked and persecuted. In verse 1, he follows a wise habit, calling out to God for relief. Having looked to heaven, he then glances back at earth, in verse 2. In verse 2, he addresses his persecutors. In verse 3, he reminds them that God takes care of His people, indicating that for this reason they should leave the psalmist alone. It’s almost as if David is reassuring himself as much as warning his enemies. In verse 4, David gives this enemies good advice: “Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.” He’s telling them that it’s okay to be angry with him, but that they should not allow their anger to lead them into sin. He then tells them to quietly think it over---think his advice over. In verse 5, he warns his oppressors to do the right thing---worship God. Rather than trust in their own strength they should seek justice from the LORD, rather than take revenge upon David. In verse 6, he considers how people often seek to take the law into their own hands because they do not trust in God. Then in verses 7-8, he describes what it looks like to see one’s world through the lens of eternity (reality) rather than the lens of experience (delusion).

"You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety."  Psalm 4:7-8

Here are the ‘money’ verses for the suffering saint. Your relationship with God is the source of your joy, not your circumstances (verse 7). Your enemies or oppressors may enjoy a short-lived prosperity, or even triumph over you. But the reality is that this life is short and eternity is long. In the final analysis, what you have in God is far, far greater than what the wicked have in this life or the life to come, apart from God.

Verse 8 shows us the right response to trial, hardship, and difficulty, even persecution. What we have here is sort of a ‘be anxious for nothing’ exhortation. Based upon David’s hardships and his eternal perspective, David explains that worrying will not better his situation or circumstances. He explains that his temporal hardships in this life will not change the fact that he eternally belongs to God and his own eternal security is his real safety (verse 8).

David provides us a theology and philosophy of sleep. When life is tough, trust in God and get some rest. When life is tough, it’s okay to minister and labor like it all depends on you. But you must sleep like it depends on God, because it does. Your joy, your rest; your sleep is not dependent, or contingent, upon your circumstances. It all comes from God. Rely on Him and sleep sound in Jesus. Nothing can separate you from His love---not visible things, not invisible things, and not created things. Nothing can separate you from Him. Let Him be your satisfaction and your security.

Abide in Christ, keep His Word; let Him do the heavy lifting. And get some sleep!

 

 

No comments (Add your own)

Add a New Comment


code
 

Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.