Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sleep Sound in Jesus

I try to work my way through the whole Bible every year. I'm more successful some years than others, and I find it much easier to wade through Matthew, for example, than the more confrontational passages of, say, Isaiah or Ezekiel. But I know that is more of a problem with me than with the Word, because even when I read the long-familiar I find fresh words there (I wonder how much I would know of God's holiness if the prophets were as familiar as the Gospels?). It never ceases to amaze me that the Word is always new for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

I must have had both as I read Psalm 3 a few weeks back, because it struck me then and I have been chewing on it since. It's a Psalm written by King David as he is quite literally fleeing for his life. His kingdom and all that he has built is burning down around him as his son Absalom overthrows him and sleeps with his wives, Shimei curses and throws rocks, and the man "after God's own heart" is back where he spent the last years of Saul's kingship-as an outlaw on the run. Yet David, like Paul and Silas years later, decides to sing to the Lord:
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying of my soul,
there is no salvation for him in God.

But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.
I cried aloud to the Lord,
and he answered me from his holy hill.

I lay down and slept;
I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of many thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
~Psalm 3:1-6 ESV
What struck me most was verse 5: "I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me." In that act of sleeping, David demonstrates his faith. When I am filled with anxiety and fear, the one thing I don't do is sleep, or least, not well. Yet David sees in both his sleep and his awakening the Lord's care and protection. I confess that I spent too much of my pastoral life worrying and too little of it praying and then sleeping on it. Here is another area passage that I will have to grow into, because I know that if I really trusted the Lord as I exhort myself and others to do, that is exactly what my response would be-to seek the Lord in prayer and through the Word, and then to sleep soundly, knowing it He who keeps watch over me. And if David can do it when thousands literally were seeking his life, surely I, filled with the Holy Spirit, can do it when no one is?

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