“I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me.”
• […] David expresses a wonderful and almost incredible steadfastness of mind in that he slept so soundly in the midst of many deaths, as if he had been beyond the reach of all danger. He had doubtless been tossed amidst the merciless waves of anxiety, but it is certain their violence had been allayed by means of faith, so that however much he was disquieted, he reposed in God. Thus the godly never fail in ultimately proving victorious over all their fears, whereas the ungodly, who do not rely upon God, are overwhelmed with despair, even when they meet with the smallest perils. David… declares how much good he had obtained by means of faith and prayer; namely, the peaceful and undisturbed state of a well regulated mind. But let us… notice that David came to have this confidence of safety from the protection of God, not from stupidity of mind. JC
• I laid me down and slept securely, casting all my cares and fears upon God, and relying on His help. I awaked… after a sweet and undisturbed sleep. [God] upheld my spirit, and person, and cause. M. Poole
• David’s faith enabled him to lie down; anxiety would certainly have kept him on tiptoe, watching for an enemy. Yea, he was able to sleep, to sleep in the midst of trouble, surrounded by foes. There is a sleep of presumption; God deliver us from it! There is a sleep of holy confidence; God help us so to close our eyes! CHS
• […] that soul which hath the beauty or holiness shining in it, shall be preserved for the glory of the structure, God will not suffer his own temple to be destroyed. Would you be secured in evil times? Get grace and fortify the garrison; a good conscience is a Christian’s fort-royal. True grace may be shot at, but can never be shot through; grace puts the soul into Christ, and there it is safe, as the bee in the hive, as the dove in the ark. Thomas Watson
• The psalmist committed himself to the care and protection of God; he laid himself down in His arms, and there slept in safety; the Lord preserved him, who is Israel's keeper, that neither slumbers nor sleeps: and he rose in health and cheerfulness in the morning, supported by His right hand. This shows, that lying down to sleep, when in such circumstances, and awaking with cheerfulness, were not owing to rashness, stupidity, and insensibility, but to divine supports. JG
• Having by prayer committed himself and his cause to God, and being sure of His protection, his heart was fixed, and he was easy. [The entire situation] never deprived him of an hour’s sleep, nor gave any disturbance to his repose; for the Lord, by His grace and the consolations of His Spirit, powerfully sustained him and made him easy. It is a great mercy when we are in trouble to have our minds stayed upon by God, so as never either to eat or sleep with trembling and astonishment. MH
In vs. 4 we saw that David was a man of prayer and how we must be that too. Now David shows us that he is a man of faith. David is such a man of faith that he is listed among the Heroes of the Faith in Heb. 11. The two are naturally tied together here and who can but attest to the fact that in their own lives this is true as well? Let us stop praying for a season and our faith will weaken as well. But frequent time in prayer and the study of God’s word emboldens our faith and sustains us through all of life’s difficulties. The same is true here of David. His world collapsing around him, betrayal and danger on every side, men actively seeking to take his life, David placed all of this in the hands of God and peacefully slept without worry. The difficult times didn’t drive him from prayer, they drove him to it. Difficult times didn’t stop him from believing in the promises of God, they proved them.
Faith is everything to the believer. It is a foundation for which our lives are built upon. Sola Fide was a cry of the Reformation. So let us look for a moment at the doctrine of faith and see what it is David had attained that allowed him to sleep so soundly amidst the turmoil.
The Westminster Confession of Faith XIV says:
I. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word, by which also, and by the administration of the sacraments, and prayer, it is increased and strengthened.The scripture proof for the end of number 3 requires a moment of our focus. It is Heb. 12:2 which says, “looking unto Jesus, the author and finsisher of our faith.” Simon Kistemaker in his commentary on the book of Hebrews says, “As contestants in running the race, we have no time to look around. We must keep our eyes focussed on Jesus and must do so without distraction. And He whom God perfected through suffering perfects His brothers and sisters who have placed their trust in Him. As originator and perfecter of our faith, Jesus has laid its foundation in our hearts and in time brings faith to completion. He can do this because He is able, and He will do this because He is our brother (Heb. 2:11-12). In a similar vein, Paul encourages the Phillippians when he says that God, “who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (1:6). Therefore, “turn your eyes upon Jesus.” Truly this is the faith that David has expressed in this Psalm. See, it wasn’t dependent on David specifically. It isn’t that there aren’t exercises that God has given the saints to embolden their faith, He has. That is what the Westminster Divines were expressing in XIV.1. But ultimately it comes from, is sustained, and perfected through Christ. What an assurance!
II. By this faith, a Christian believes to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of God Himself speaking therein; and acts differently upon that which each particular passage thereof contains; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.
III. This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory: growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.
In another place David (Calvin here gives David the credit although it is uncertain who the author is for sure) says, “The Lord is for me, I will not fear; what can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6) In this vs. fear is dealt with; which is also the pressing matter in the case of David in Psalm 3. Perhaps in a similar situation we would not have slept so well. So let us look at fear through the prism of faith as David did so well.
“God is sovereign and in comlplete control. Therefore, what are we to fear?BB Warfield says this when discussing the word faith,
• Are we to fear our futures? No, we’ve already given those to God.
• Are we to fear for our families? No, that is resloved in the assurance that God loves and cares for our families even more than we do.
• Are we to be held captive by our fears themselves? No, belief in God’s total sovereignty solves that issue.
One way to stop being afraid is to have the correct view of God. Do you truly believe that God is sovereign and that there are no accidents in His eyes?
Even those things which seem accidental are ordained by God. To have faith, we must believe God for our futures, our families, and our fears.” Dr. Louis Hill, “Faith Is…”, pp 114-115
“[This is] one whose state of mind is free from faintheartedness (Isa. 7:9) and anxious haste (Isa. 28:16), and who stays himself upon the object of his contemplation with confidence and trust. The implication seems to be, not so much that of passive dependence as of a vigorous active commitment. He who, in the Hebrew sense, exercises faith, is secure, assured, confident (Deut. 28:66, Job 24:22, Ps. 27:13), and lays hold of the object of his confidence with firm trust.In another place faith is coupled with assurance to describe what it is to the believer.
[Faith] consists neither in assent nor in obedience, but in a reliant trust in the invisible author of all good (Heb. 11:27), in which the mind is set upon the things that are above and not on the things that are upon the earth (Col. 3:2, 2 Cor. 4:16-18, Matt. 6:25).The examples cited in Heb. 11 are themselves enough to show that the faith there commended is not a mere belief in God’s existence and justice and goodness, or crediting of His word and promises, but a practical counting of Him faithful (11:11), with a trust so profound that no trial can shake it (11:35), and so absolute that it survives the loss of even its own pledge (11:17).” BB Warfeild, “The Works of BB Warfield”, vol. 2 “Biblical Doctrines”, pp 468, 501
“(1) The objective assurance of faith, which is the “certain and undoubting conviction that Christ is all He professes to be, and will do all He promises.” (2) The subjective assurance of faith, or the assurance of grace and salvation, which consists in a sense of security and safety, rising in many instances to the height of an “assured conviction that the individual believer has had his sins pardoned and his soul saved.” Louis Berkhof, “Systematic Theology”, pp 507I believe I could go on for quite a long time and still probably never scratch the surface of what the books will say about faith and the Christian; most of which is worthwhile to read, although it will, of course, at times be repetitive. But what I have included here is because, hopefully, it will describe what David has experienced in this vs. and how that then lays an example for the saints in their own lives.
We see that to have the faith that David has we must focus our eyes on Christ and never look away, that we must be diligent in the godly exercises He has left for us (namely prayer, sacraments, and the reading and study of the Word of God). We see that our perseverence and growth in faith depends not on man but on Christ Himself. We see that, with the Heroes of Faith, we cannot let fear cripple us to inaction. That we must have faith in God that He is sovereign over all things and that He has ordained all things to come to pass so that nothing is beyond His control, including our lives. We see that faith is a vigorous giving of ourselves to God, living with a complete assurance and trust in Him, it is believing with a sure conviction that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He has said He will do. Finally, it is a complete assurance that Christ has died for our sins and we are saved from the wrath of God that is going to come on all of the ungodly of this world. Faith drives you to God in all circumstances and allows you to rest easy in Him. The world has not known this; nor will they, unless they become born again believers as well.
Let troubles come, let men rail against us, let the depths of hell be unleashed in a rage against us! God will preserve us, we will be sustained, we will be glorified with Him one day in heaven. His will is perfect and if that will is that those forces defeat us in this life it matters not, for they have lost in eternity. If it means that times are hard and the road is bumpy for far longer than we would have liked or anticipated, so be it, our road will be smooth soon enough when it is Christ who has paved the road to heaven. Regardless of what we are facing, unpleasant as it might be, pray that God sanctify the situation, trust that He will do so, lie down, and sleep in peace. Sola Fide!