Memo 1098: Bed Time

As we examine David's life for clues on how we can lead an abundant life, we have turned to the psalms to see what we can find and learn. This week, let's look at Psalm 4, one of the many David wrote:

Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer. How long will you people turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods? Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer the sacrifices of the righteous and trust in the Lord. 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. In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety (Psalm 4, emphasis added)

Last week in Psalm 3, we saw this phrase: "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me" (Psalm 3:5, emphasis added). Since both psalms mention sleep and rest, let's look a little more closely at what David may have been trying to tell us. Over the years, I've read much about David's rising early for his devotions, but I've never noticed anyone talk much about what David said we should do while in bed. Let's get started.


Who among us hasn't lost sleep for some reason? Sometimes we're overstimulated by viewing something right before bed or because we drank too much caffeine. Maybe we're worried or excited about a relationship or the outcome of some possible event. Sometimes we have bad or good dreams that we can't stop replaying in our minds. Occasionally, we sleep to escape the realities of life that await when we get up.

Then there's the highly individualized manner in which we approach sleep. Some need more, some less. Some retire early while others are night owls; some rise before dawn while others consider 11 a.m. "early to rise." Whatever our sleep habits may be, David had some thoughts on the 'work' we should be doing before and after our bed time.

We see that he told us to 'search our hearts' while we're on our beds and to 'be silent.' This must mean that early in the morning or late at night, David recommended we stop and listen—to our hearts and for the Lord's voice. In Psalm 63:6, David wrote, "On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night." The prophet wrote in Isaiah 50:4, "The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed" (emphasis added). Paul wrote not to let the sun go down on our anger—to deal with it promptly before we go to sleep (see Ephesians 4:26). We see from all these verses that our time in bed is to be used for more than sleep.


There's no such thing as being off-duty when you're serving the Lord. Whether you're eating, playing, working, learning, getting up, or lying down, you're to be mindful of Him. You're to think of Him and His goodness throughout your waking hours, and you're to transact business with Him in your first and last moments of consciousness. You're to trust the Lord even as you prepare to spend up to one-third of your day in an unconscious sleep state. When you do that, David seems to promise in both Psalm 3 and 4 that you'll have peace when you recline and thus sleep well.

How are you sleeping these days? Is your sleep restful or restless? Are your dreams pleasant or not so much? Are you taking time to thank God for the gift of another day? Are you wrestling through issues until you've released them to the Lord and have peace? As we saw last week, David learned how to rest well even when he was surrounded by his enemies, providing proof that it can be done even in the toughest of circumstances.

Your PowerPoint for Living the abundant life this week is as follows:

You have important work to do on your bed. This means that before and after you sleep, you're to check in with your God who neither sleeps nor slumbers to take care of your spiritual business: prayer, listening, confession, praise, questions, and thanksgiving.

As a God worshiper, even your bed time is an important part of your devotion to Him. Make the most of it by doing the business you need to do that will grant you meaningful rest which will then equip you to serve God and others while you are awake. Have a blessed week!


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