Skip to main content

The older I get, the harder it is to get a solid night’s sleep.

The experts will tell us that most adult bodies require something between 7 and 9 hours per night if we are going to feel refreshed in the morning and function well throughout the day.

Those who study this stuff are keen to point out the physical healing that takes place during the sleep cycle, along with growth and the formation of memories. If we don’t get enough sleep on a regular basis, concentration the next day will likely be affected (as well as mood) with possible negative effects on heart and blood pressure. So, what does God have to say about the subject?

Here’s one story in the form of a psalm: Psalm 4. Written by David, it takes us to the prayers of a man in great distress. He is desperate for God to hear and answer, anxious for relief from his situation, and crying out for mercy. It would be easy to imagine this man, wide awake, on his knees, and searching for God in the cold loneliness of the night.

“Answer me when I call to you,  my righteous God.  Give me relief from my distress;   have mercy on me and hear my prayer” (Ps 4: 1)

During the next 4 verses, David seems to be entertaining angry and imaginary conversations with those who have wronged him.

“How long will you people ruin my reputation?  How long will you make groundless accusations?  How long will you continue your lies?  You can be sure of this:  The Lord will set apart the godly for himself.  The Lord will answer when I call to him” (v 2 – 3 NLT)

How many of us, like this, have stewed over previous unpleasant exchanges, well into the early hours, rehearsing things we would really like to say in person?

In verses 4 and 5, David speaks more generally, still imagining his adversaries (who are probably also tossing and turning), but now including his own soul on the receiving end of his words.  His message is clear: it’s time to assume a new posture of humility and trust in the Lord.

“Be angry, and do not sin;  ponder in your own hearts on your beds and be silent.   Offer right sacrifices,  and put your trust in the Lord.”

In other words, “maybe we are all angry about this situation, but let’s not sin. Let’s not do anything we will regret. Let’s examine, each one of us, our own hearts before the Lord. Let’s try to offer the sacrifice of a contrite heart and put our trust in Him.”

David returns to addressing the Lord in the next two verses, declaring that joy and all good things come from Him. Those who cause our anxiety may take our peace for a season, but let’s take it back. Let’s ask for The Lord’s light in the situation and meditate on it. Then pray for His joy and feel its warmth.

“Many, Lord, are asking, “Who will bring us prosperity?”  Let the light of your face shine on us.   Fill my heart with joy   when their grain and new wine abound” (v 6 – 7)

No wonder, David can now calm his heart, fix his trust back on God and declare,

“In peace, I will both lie down and sleep;  for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety” (v 8 ESV)

As I think about my own sleep patterns, I may be getting older, and I may not need as much shut-eye as I used to, but I do believe the Lord wants me (and all of His children) to know a heart at peace with Him, as each night our heads hit the pillow.