This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
Sweet Evening Psalm
Meditation on Psalm 4: 7,8
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
This is a verse that my son-in-law quoted to my mother-in-law the evening before the Lord took her home to glory. This is also a verse that I never used as a call to worship! Please do not go to sleep until after the sermon.
How closely this psalm is related to Psalm 3, which one could call a morning psalm. In Psalm 3: 5 we read, “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” Now in Psalm 4: 8 we read, “I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep.” It is an evening psalm. It reminds me of a prayer taught to us as little children to recite as we went to bed. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord, my soul to keep. If I should die, before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take.”
In verses 6-8, the psalmist delightfully contrasts his own satisfaction and safety with the disquietude of the ungodly in their best estate! “Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time when their corn and their wine increased.” In verse one, he cries to the “God of my righteousness”. Indeed, what peace we have when we rest, not in our own good works, but only in the righteousness that God Himself gives to us, the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ. There we have peace. God is not against us but for us. This is what we read in Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do you know that peace?
In the midst of trials and difficulties, I will not sit up to watch and wait in fear. Nor will I lay down and stay awake all night with worries, listening to every tick of the clock and the noise coming through my window. I will lie down in peace and sleep. I have nothing to fear! My God surrounds me like a mother hen’s wings cover her young. I have the Good Shepherd watching over and tending the sheep of His flock. I am given guardian angels that are given charge over me.
Notice in our verse, that it is the “LORD only makest me dwell in safety.” God alone was David’s keeper. Though he was all alone without man’s help, he was “alone with God.” How many saints have felt all alone during Covid- 19. No visitors were allowed. They were forced to stay alone in their room. No children or friends were allowed to visit or put their arms around them. Day after day, and month after month, they were alone. And yet they were not alone. Christ Jesus is with us always by his Spirit and Word. David, God’s friend, had to flee from his home and loved ones into the wilderness, but he could lay down on the hard ground and sleep. His God was keeping him in safety. God is our keeper . He “shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand” (Psalm 121:4,5).
Charles Spurgeon wrote, “A quiet conscience is a good bedfellow. How many of our sleepless hours might be traced to our untrusting and disordered minds? They slumber sweetly whom faith rocks to sleep. No pillow so soft as a promise; no coverlet so warm as an assured interest in Christ.”
We should never lose sight of our Lord Jesus while reading this psalm. In your mind, can you see Him as he was sound asleep in the little fishing boat, even when the wind was howling, the waves rolling and the water flooded the boat? The disciples panicked, waking the Master and asking if He cared not that they perish. Jesus speaks, “Be still.” Not only was there perfect calm and peace upon the sea, but also in the hearts of his disciples. Matthew Henry wrote of the farmer, “Having cast his seed into the ground, he sleeps and riseth day and night, and the seed springs and grows he knoweth not how. So a good man having by faith cast his care upon God, he resteth night and day, and is very easy, leaving it to his God to perform all things for him according to his holy will.”
When you and I walk with God from dawn until night, then at night we can renew and confirm your peace with God by faith and prayer. It is good to “commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still” (Psalm 4:4). Lie down with some Scripture meditation on your mind, your head full of good thoughts, and your heart will be in a better frame both to sleep and awaken in the morning. In a time when we are surrounded with strife of tongues and violence, we rest in the Lord. He is on His throne, exercising personal care for all those who are His own.
The psalmist said, “I will both lay me down and sleep in peace.” He does this in absolute trust and dependence. We commit to the Lord all of our troubles and fears. How sweet is His care and immeasurable love for each of His own! He is there in all the hours of our loneliness, grief, illness, weariness, and pain. We lay ourselves down. We give up our own guardianship, and resign ourselves into the hands of our great God. Oh, that we might trust God more and more, and experience perfect peace. The Lord makes me dwell in safety. Happy is the saint that can go to bed each night and finally to his death and grave with this verse. “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”
“When in the night I meditate on mercies multiplied, My grateful heart inspires my tongue to bless the Lord, my Guide. I know that I shall not be left forgotten in the grave, And from corruption, Thou O Lord, Thy holy one wilt save.” (Psalter # 28, George Allen)
Rev. Audred Spriensma (Wife: Alva)
Ordained: January 1981
Pastorates: Atwood, MI CRC - 1981; Bethany, S.Holland, IL CRC - 1984; Grandville, MI - 1992; Missionary to the Philippines - 2002; Kalamazoo, MI - 2007; Byron Center, MI - 2010; Home missionary (Byron Center PRC), 2017Website: www.prca.org/missions/domestic
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