Skip to content

A good nights sleep… Psalm 3

October 31, 2010

‘What are the things that give you sleepless nights’ I know this is a difficult and personal question but spend a minute just thinking about that. Now sleepless nights can be caused by many different things, like illness, medication or kids, but the sleepless nights I’m talking about, are the ones caused my worry. I guess what’s giving me sleepless nights at the moment is not having a job. I wake up in the middle of the night and questions flood my mind like:

‘Am I ever going to get a job?’
‘Why did I make the decision I made in the past?’
‘Some of my friends are doctors or accountants’
‘I could’ve been an accountant by now’

Which is just silly since I can’t add up to save my life! No unemployment is the reason why I have sleepless nights but there are plenty of other reasons why people have sleepless nights. Some worry about an illness they have:

‘Will God cure me they ask?’
Or ‘Can’t God just take some of this pain away?’

Others worry about their new-born child; will I ever get the hang of this parent lark? Some can’t sleep because of loneliness; why can’t I meet someone they ask? Sometimes its relations at home; why can’t Jim get on with James? And for others its having to do something which is out of their comfort zone. What ever it is we all have problems and part of us thinks ‘shouldn’t this be easier if I’m a Christian?

This is far from just a modern question. A few thousand years ago King David was probably asking similar questions. In 2 Samuel 15-18 we find King David on the run for his life. His son Absalom had convinced the people of Israel that he was a great guy and had tricked them into turning against David. David realising that things were going to go badly for him legged it to the hills. Now Absalom took his army of over ten thousand troops and chased after his father. If Absalom could kill David,
David’s loyal subjects would have no choice but to accept him as king. So you can imagine that as David hid in the mountains, with ten thousand warriors chasing after him, he had plenty to keep him awake at night

And so as we look down at Psalm 3, we find David who has troubles just like we all do and yet, through his Psalm, we see how he has a right perspective, a confidence in God, so that he can just drift off to sleep, secure in the knowledge that God has it all sorted. And we too can take hold of his confidence in God, we too can sleep soundly, trust God to look after the things that worry us, and relax and find peace in Him.

If you look through the Psalter you will find that Psalm 1 & 2 are really the introduction to the collection, they set the scene and give us the context within which we can read the others. And as you look at Psalm 1 you see David saying that living for God is everything, that if you like, there are two ways to live but only one is actually that appealing. Psalm 2 on the other hand seems to say that God is totally in control as He looks after his people.

So having given us the right perspective, the editor of the Psalms now takes us straight into a testing situation, to show us that those who have grasped this right perspective, it is they who can cope with the most difficult of circumstances and with such confidence that they can sleep peacefully at night.

Have a look at verses 1 & 2:

O LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.”

You see, surrounded by his enemies who are crying for his blood, David’s question, the issue which he really worries about, and the issue which his enemies are shouting at him, is this question of deliverance:

Is God going to get me out of this,
can God get me out of this,
hasn’t this situation come about because of God,
so has God abandoned me?

And really, to be honest the question we’re probably asking when we wake up at night is – can God sort this out? Or has he just left me to it? But what David does for us is he shows us how we are to think, how in light of the first two psalms we can be confident that God can and will help us through.

Firstly in verses 3 and 4, he shows us this by reminding himself of who God is, what He is like. David says:

But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.

David realises that God is in control and he says to those enemies around him,and also to the questions in his own head,

God isn’t like that.
God doesn’t abandon us,
God doesn’t just leave us for dead.
that’s not the God I know!

How does David know this? Because he looks backwards, he looks at the past, he looks at history, and says:

I know what God is like, the God of Abraham.
All that Abraham went through,
God never abandoned him,
the God of Isaac and Jacob and all they went through,
God never abandoned them,
and then David has his own past to think about.

David could remember his own battles, with Goliath, the giant he should never have defeated, with King Saul, the king he never should have replaced, and finally David’s own eventual coronation. And so David can say:

‘I know what God is like’, I know he doesn’t just leave people, He doesn’t just abandon people. I know my God he says, and He sticks by His people.

David reminds himself that God is the one who has answered his prayers in the past (verse 4), and God will do so again. David has taken on the truths which are found in Psalm 1, that he can choose to listen to the voices of the world and be like chaff, or he can trust in the God who doesn’t let his people down, and be like the tree growing by the stream. And because of knowing what God is like he can take the promises of Psalm 2 and say:

I trust God to deliver,
I trust God who says that
in the words of the last verse of Psalm 2:

Blessed are all who take refuge in Him

David says: I believe, so I will take refuge in God.

Now there are many people, with many different experiences in the church. Some who have a long life as a Christian to look back on and take heart from, and some who are pretty new Christians and have very little experience to look back on, and if this is you – a new Christian can I recommend that you read the stories of the Christians in the Old Testament. Maybe read some biographies of Christians down through the years, people like John Paton for their stories will only help you to have more faith and confidence in the God whom we serve.

But can I also say that whether you are a new Christian or a mature Christian, you still have far more to go on than David ever did, you have something far more important than even the most uplifting and inspiring accounts from other Christians, and something even more certain than your own experience however encouraging.

David had the stories of how God had treated his ancestors sure,
but we have God coming into human history, we have God who loved us so much that He left heaven, came to earth, lived with sinful people
and died for us, so that we could be his people. God has already done the hard work, He has claimed us for His very own, why would he now abandon us? And we have the promises from God’s own mouth, that He loves to hear us pray, and longs to give us what we need. So we can say verse 4 far more confidentially than David ever could:

To the Lord I cry aloud and He answers me from His holy hill.

So we can relax! Knowing what God is like, understanding His character, and understanding what Psalm 1 and 2 are talking about means that we can rest assured, confident that God has control over all situations? Have a look at verse 5:

I lie down and sleep…

I’m sorry David, you do what? You go to sleep, there is army out for you
and you go to sleep?

I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side.

Yes David sleeps, and sleeps soundly and does not fear, confident in the knowledge that God has everything in hand. And this is not to say that David knows that God is going to get him out of trouble, it’s just a confidence that whatever happens, God is in control and will do the best thing by His people. This isn’t peace from trouble but peace during trouble.

David as yet does not know whether he will be delivered from these circumstances! Perhaps God means to give the throne to Absalom,
but even if that is God’s plan, David knows that it is still God who is in control, so he can sleep easy!

Now Irene Howat is a christian biographer, and in one of her books
Finding God is in the Darkness, she tells of the awful circumstances which a christian couple called Pat and Andrew Cardy found themselves in 1981. They had a little girl called Jennifer who had set off for her friend’s house one day on her bike, and hadn’t been seen since. Irene writes of the terrible days and nights which followed, as the couple waited anxiously for news of their little girl. On about the fourth day, their doctor dropped off some sleeping tablets, and Pat the mother took them upstairs wondering whether she would have to use these for the rest of her life. Before taking the tablets and getting into bed, Pat read her Bible and the words of Ps 127 v 2 which say:

In vain you rise early
and stay up late…
…for He grants sleep to those He loves.

As she thought on these words and the love of the God which they talked of, she claimed that promise for herself, and slept soundly without the need for her tablets. It’s not that Pat forgot her daughter, by no means, but she trusted God to look after the situation, and because of that Pat could sleep.

And we see the same in the New Testament, Paul holding on to God and His promises, as he is carted from one trial to the next, from one prison cell to the next. And we see the same trust in the Lord Jesus, as He kneels in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, before He’s crucified as He prays to His Father and ours,

not as I will but as you will

Those who know God, those who trust His Word and His promises, can rest secure in the bad times, in the times of trial and in the sleepless nights, for they know that God is in charge, that He overrules, and that He is the God of Psalm 1 and 2 and because of this, they can rest and sleep. So having found the confidence to sleep, to rest, David now shows his confidence in prayer. Whilst we see that there can be peace in times of trouble, God still wants us to act, to seek Him and to ask Him for what we need and so David prays in verses 7 & 8:

Arise, O Lord!
Deliver me, O God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

Now these are difficult verses and you can ask me about them afterwards
but what we can say is despite what the world tells us, despite what His enemies told him in verse 2, David knows that actually deliverance does come from God. And because of that David prays, prays to His Heavenly Father, prays to his Lord for exactly the deliverance which his enemies say won’t come from God, confident in the knowledge that it will and does come from Him And indeed if you go back to 2 Samuel 15-18,
you will find that God does indeed deliver David from His enemies,
and it’s not long before Absalom is dead and David is back on his throne in Jerusalem.

David trusts,
David sleeps,
David prays
and David is delivered.

And God still works and delivers in this lifetime. There is nothing God likes to hear more than His children, those in this room and across the world pray and ask Him for things, and God responds in answering prayers. We heard over the last couple of weeks how, a guy longed for his mum to become a Christian. This guy trusted God, he rested in God’s promises, he prayed for God to act and God delivered. And when God does, like He did with David, and like He did with this guys mum, its right that the people of God, celebrate with those who have been delivered, and praise and worship God for his mercies and kindnesses.

But it doesn’t always work that way. Notice David only says that from the Lord comes deliverance, David never says that God will do that in this lifetime. God promises to deliver His people, but sometimes we have to wait till the next life to experience that deliverance. Remember Paul prayed in prison, but God did not free him from it. Remember Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, but God did not save Jesus from the cross. It wasn’t lack of faith, or lack of prayer which meant that Paul and Jesus died, and it wasn’t that God didn’t deliver, He did as Jesus rose from the dead and as Paul passed into heaven. No God delivers those who trust Him, but sometimes we need to wait.

You may be wondering what happen to Pat and Andrew Cardy and their daughter Jennifer. Pat trusted God and slept well but that didn’t mean that she got her daughter back. In fact a few days later they got the terrible news that Jennifer her daughter had been killed. But that doesn’t mean that Pat’s trust was in vain. God certainly hadn’t promised Pat
that things would go as she wished, God hasn’t promised that for Christians everything will be rosy, in fact God has promised Christians exactly the opposite. You see God isn’t a magic sky fairy who will always keep his people safe from trouble in this life, but He is a God who loves His people and will deliver them in the end.

All these people trusted in the God of Psalm 1 & 2, Pat Cardy, Andrew Cardy, and Paul, and God will keep them, and God will deliver them,
we can be certain of that because of Jesus. Because of his death and resurrection we can be certain that God will have the victory, that in the words of Psalm 2, God will give Jesus His enemies to rule over and He will dash them like pieces of pottery whilst Jesus will watch over the way of the righteous. But victory is certain and we just need to trust Him.

So how does this effect us, how does this affect the church here?

Well I think it’s a challenge and a useful reminder, whenever we’re tempted to worry, or when things keep us awake at night. It’s a useful kick in the backside. We can say that we trust God when everything is going smoothly, but when something difficult comes along I don’t know about you, but I too easily start worrying and trying to solve things myself but God wants us to trust Him because He has everything in hand. For example, God knows that I need a job, He knows how much money I need, He knows exactly which job is right for me, He has it all in hand and I just need to trust Him. That doesn’t mean I don’t look for jobs,
it doesn’t mean I don’t work hard at trying to find them, but it should mean that I do my part and trust God with the rest. It could mean that when I wake up in the middle of the night, or when you wake up in the middle of the night worrying, it would be helpful to read through Psalm 3, or at least to remind ourselves of what God has done, what He is like and hand the problem over to Him. Hopefully that way we will be able to sleep more peacefully.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2010 10:24 pm

    Good post Mike – though in the midst of a financial crisis I do feel obliged to point out that it seems most of the world’s most highly paid accountants can’t add up to save their lives either (except when it’s their own pay cheque!).

  2. September 27, 2011 7:47 pm

    It is easier to trust God when things are going smoothly. I stay up at night worried about someone breaking into my house and killing me. Crazy, right? But when I hear a *Bump* in the night, I wake up and can never go back to sleep…maybe I’ll turn to the Psalms next time…

  3. September 27, 2011 9:08 pm

    Inspiring, Mike! Trusting in God, in the good times AND in the troubled ones, knowing that everything is in His hands and in His time, certainly has eased my worries about so many things. Worrying wastes our time and won’t add one minute to our lives, as Jesus said. We must all have faith as David did.
    Thanks for a brilliantly written commentary on the OT!


  4. September 28, 2011 12:21 am

    good post there mike thank you and god bless

  5. September 28, 2011 3:51 am

    If your thr good God I have come to believe in ..then where are you..with the power in your finger you can wipr ou all this pain an suffering,,,Why God…..As always …XOXOXOXO

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: