I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. - Psalm 3:5
Have you ever had a sleepless night? You were tired, but your mind kept racing and thinking about some problem or situation. It’s hard to sleep on nights like that.
I've had a few of those unpleasant nights myself through the years. But I doubt I've had a problem like David was facing when he wrote that he laid down and slept, and then woke again.
The superscription (those words at the top of some psalms before the actual text begins) tells us that David wrote this psalm when he was fleeing from his son Absalom. David’s own son was plotting to take over his father's kingdom. After a four year campaign to steal away the hearts of the people from his father, Absalom went to Hebron and proclaimed himself king. He amassed troops for a coup against David and his loyal army. He wanted to take his father's crown, throne, kingdom and life. David and his servants had to flee Jerusalem to escape with their lives. David wrote what we know as Psalm 3 while he was on this sad journey.
In addition to Absalom's treachery, David was troubled by the number of people who had been disloyal to him and the hateful things they were saying about him. "Many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God." Their estimate of David's chance of survival was grim--it was hopeless, not even God could save him now.
Have you known the pain of people thinking you are a hopeless case? Whether it comes from a friend with tears in his eyes or an enemy who is gloating over your troubles, it really hurts to be labeled hopeless.
The doomsayers were wrong about David. His salvation would come from the very source they had dismissed--God himself. The Lord was David's shield--his defense. The Lord was David's glory, even when he was humiliated and despised by people around him. The Lord was the one who lifted David's head, giving the imperiled king courage, confidence and joy.
Can you imagine trying to sleep when your own son is intent on killing you and stealing your reign? But David said he did sleep and wake up, because the Lord sustained him.
David didn't fear who was against him because of his confidence that God was for him. David was not boasting of his own military power or his clever plan to save himself from Absalom. He asked God to act in his defense against his enemies and save him. He knew and acknowledged God as the one who would rescue him.
I want to be like David--humble, dependent and confident. Don't you? Imagine how much less anxiety we'd suffer and how much better we could sleep if you and I learned to rely on God the way David did. May the Lord grant us grace to trust him more!