Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 4
Scratching the Surface of the Psalms
Do you take naps?
My wife says I take naps to get ready for bed.
Though my generation is more penny-loafers and button-downed and cuffed, I’ve been getting into the “untucked” look when I’m not wearing a jacket if you know what I mean.
Really, my generation and the ones preceding mine weren’t into the “untucked” look. Then along came Ricky and other mega-ministers and it started catching on.
Now, I’m kinda into it because, like Ricky, I’ve had some anatomical changes and…
Actually, I’ve heard sleeping less causes men to have big guts.
I’m getting into that too; telling my wife that I’m working out when she accuses me of falling asleep on the couch during the late news or Monday Night Football.
Anyway, I’ve heard lots of people have a hard time falling asleep at night.
“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.”
While a quick look at America and her churches would conclude lots of folks need to wake before they die if you know what I mean, lots of folks seem to have a hard time falling asleep.
Insomnia has many causes.
Sometimes it’s medical or psychological; demanding medical or psychological therapy.
Sometimes it means we’re just not taking care of ourselves by setting aside enough hours for sleep, not exercising enough, smoking too much, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol, taking the wrong kinda meds or self-medicating, and using our beds for stuff other than the two purposes recommended by most physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and successfully married couples.
The Mayo Clinic says, “Insomnia is a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep…[People who don’t sleep well]…awaken feeling unrefreshed…Insomnia can sap…your energy and mood…health…work performance, and quality of life.”
People who don’t sleep well are often irritable, depressed, tense, anxious, stressed, plagued by headaches, accident-prone, unfocused, forgetful, miserable with a penchant for causing misery for those unfortunate enough to be around them, and just plain old painfully weary.
Acknowledging the psychosomatic possibilities, there is a spiritual antidote.
Psalm 4 could be the cure for most people.
Intimacy with God – counting on Jesus more than counting sheep – cures the discontent, discomfort, dysfunction, disquiet, and restlessness at the roots of insomnia.
Psalm 4 concludes intimacy with God is the cure for most cases of insomnia.
With most commentators thinking David probably wrote this one night just before going to bed, he begins, “Answer me when I call, God, who vindicates me. You freed me from affliction; be gracious to me and hear my prayer…When I call, give me answers. God, take my side!…I’m in trouble again. Grace me! Hear me!”
David’s life was constantly threatened by Saul and his own son Absalom and enemy after enemy; but he never lost sleep over it because he trusted God who always showed up in the nick of time to save him.
His experience of God’s saving interventions in his life enabled a trust with the by-product of rejuvenating slumber: “I lie down at night and fall asleep. I awake in the morning – healthy, strong, and vibrant. Because God supports me, I sleep securely and peacefully. I trust God because He has always proven trustworthy.”
Solomon was taught well by his daddy David and later said, “My mind is clear, free from fear. I lie down and sleep so well. I am refreshed by sweet sleep. I’m calm. I don’t fear anything or anyone because God is always around to protect me. He is the safeguard of every step.”
Or as Paul later wrote about his calm in God that defied the Roman headhunters and other savages, “If God is for us, what does it matter who is against us?…Nobody can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!”
David continues, “How long, exalted men, will my honor be insulted? How long will you love what is worthless and pursue a lie?…You rabble! How long will I put up with your scorn?”
That was David’s rhetorical mocking of those who mess with God’s anointed children; for he then exults, “Know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for Himself; the Lord hears the supplications of the faithful.”
God saves His anointed servants sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end; and, likewise, God judges those who assault His anointed servants sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.
David says anyone who is intimate with God experiences, as Oswald Chambers wrote, “…strong calm sanity…[in the midst of life’s meanness, madness, misery, and miscreance]…When once we get intimate with Jesus, we are never lonely, we never need sympathy…The only impression left by such a life is that of strong calm sanity that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.”
While no one is ever pure and perfect in every way - which, remember, is why Jesus came as Savior of our impure and imperfect lives by grace through faith – trusting intimacy with God means we’re more chilled than venting and brooding in bed about something or someone and not letting life’s irritations and aggravations get the worst of us.
Concentrating on God – focusing on Him and filtering thoughts, words, and actions through Him – we have, again, that strong calm sanity that inspires dedication to lives of gratitude: “Offer sacrifices in righteousness and trust in the Lord.”
Again, David uses mocking rhetoric to herald God’s goodness and grace: “Many are saying, ‘Who can show us anything good?’ Look on us with favor, Lord.”
Francis of Assisi understood that in a prayer that he often repeated hour after hour after hour: “My God and my all…My God and my all…My God and my all…”
Peterson captures that saving sentiment in his translation/paraphrase: “Why is everyone hungry for more?…I have God’s more-than-enough.”
God is enough as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Anyone intimate with Him knows that.
Anyone who does not know that has never been intimate with Him.
With that trusting intimacy, David concludes confidently, “God, You have put more joy in my heart than they have with all their pretensions and illusions and inventions.”
The result: “I lie down at night and sleep well; for You alone, God, make me live in safety…At day’s end, I’m ready for sound sleep; for You, God, have put my life back together.”
I’ll never forget the frenzied and frazzled woman who came to me and complained, “I’m having so many problems with ___ that I can’t sleep at night. Can you help me?”
“No, I can’t,” I replied, “but Jesus can.”
I went on, “You’re thinking too much about her and not enough about Jesus. Instead of thinking about her when you turn in, I’d suggest thinking more about Jesus.”
Don’t count sheep!
Count on Jesus!
It’s like I tell children: “If you’re afraid of the dark when you go to bed, just start talking to Jesus out loud and everything along with you will calm down and you’ll be asleep before you know it.”
Don’t count sheep!
Count on Jesus!
Or as somebody said, “When something or someone troubling comes knocking on your door, just say, ‘Jesus, please get that for me. Thank You!’”
Don’t count sheep!
Count on Jesus!
It’s the only way to have a good night’s sleep…and life…and eternity.
Blessings and Love!
Shatter the sound of silence!
Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!
Salt! Shine! Leavenate!