Let me share with you Calvin’s translation of this verse, “I will lay me down, and will sleep [as] together in peace; for thou, Lord, hast placed me alone in safety.” Calvin says, “I consider the participle as to be understood, as if the rendering were as together, that is to say, as with a multitude.” You can easily see that with a more proper translation the context becomes entirely different and stays true to the preceding verses which show David isolated from his people; especially those that were operating with false security and relishing in their own comfort and prosperity and had thought David to have been cut off from God. So the sense given here is David sleeps in peace as if together with a multitude of people but the Lord has isolated Him and his care and protection is solely from God. If we abandon the comparative nature of the verse you lose the beauty of David’s trust in the Lord as well. It isn’t just that God protects him while alone, it is that He gives him such protection that he sleeps peacefully, just as if he had a great army outside his door ready to defend him at any moment. This also keeps this Psalm in context with Ps. 3 as a whole (as well as Ps. 3:3, 5). This is important because if you will recall at the beginning of this Psalm we learned from Delitzsch that, “The Davidic morning hymn is now followed by a Davidic evening hymn. It is evident that they belong together from the mutual relation of 4:6 with 3:2, and 3:5 with 4:8. They are the only two Psalms in which the direct words of others are taken up into prayer with the formula ‘many say.’” These are intended to be kept together, thus contextually they must belong together as well.
“I will lay me down, and will sleep [as] together in peace;”
¨ He concludes by stating, that he is protected by the power of God, he enjoys as much security and quiet as if he had been defended by all the garrisons on earth. Now, we know, that to be free from all fear, and from the torment and vexation of care, is a blessing to be desired above all other things. This verse, therefore, is a confirmation of the former sentence, intimating that David justly prefers the joy produced by the light of God’s fatherly love before all other objects: for inward peace of mind certainly surpasses all the blessings of which we can form any conception. JC
“for thou, Lord, hast placed me alone in safety.”
¨ In short, David boasts that the protection of God alone was sufficient, and that under it he sleeps as securely, although destitute of all human guardianship, as if he had had many to keep watch and ward continually over him, or as if he had been defended on all sides by a great company. Let us, therefore, learn from his example, to yield this honor to God – to believe, that although there may appear no help for us from men, yet under His hand alone we are kept in peace and safety, as if we were surrounded by a great host. JC
¨ God makes him dwell in seclusion free of care… He needs no guards for he is guarded round about by [Jehovah] and kept in safety. The seclusion…, in which he is, is security… because [Jehovah] is near him. Under what a many phases and how sweetly the nature of faith is expressed in this and the foregoing Psalm: his righteousness, exaltation, joy, peace, contentment in God! And how delicately received is the rhythm! In the last line the evening hymn itself sinks to rest. The iambics with which it closes are like the last strains of a lullaby which die away softly and as though falling asleep themselves. K&D, Franz Delitzsch
¨ […] his protection and safety were owing to the power and presence of God only; and that was the reason of the tranquility of his mind, and why he slept so quietly in the night watches, though in such danger from his enemies; or "thou, Lord, makest me only" or "alone," being solitary and destitute of friends, to dwell in safety; [under] the shadow of thy wings, encompassed by thy favor, and surrounded by thy power. JG
¨ [This is the] happy and gracious conclusion of every truly regenerate soul, convinced of an interest in Christ, and a personal union with Him. The beloved of the Lord shall dwell safely. (Isa. 32:18) RH
¨ 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.
What a blessed security we have in God! When we are in the midst of assault from this world, whatever that may be in all its various forms, it is well to remember that if you be isolated from the world that still, with God on your side, it is as if you were surrounded by an innumerable army. Seeing David’s faith and peace in spite of knowing his odds in the eyes of men weren’t very good, reminds me of the story of Elisha and his servant. They were in the city of
Are we so different? Does God not love us as He loved David and Elisha? Perhaps we, like the servant, have eyes that are not so focused by faith, eyes that see so dimly as to not perceive the strength we have in the Lord. May we pray as Elisha that the Lord will show us His strength and that He is with us as He has declared it to be so. For this is the God that has said lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matt. 28:20) If we but believe on the promises the Lord has given us we may rest secure in the arms of faith and in the most holy God of heaven.
That pious man John Flavel summarizes it well for us. “[David] resolves that sinful fears of events shall not rob him of his inward quiet, not torture his thoughts with anxious presages: he will commit all his concerns into that faithful fatherly hand that had hitherto wrought all things for him; and he means not to lose the comfort of one night’s rest, nor bring the evil of tomorrow upon the day; but knowing in whose hand he was, wisely enjoys the sweet felicity of a resigned will. Now this tranquility of our minds is as much begotten and preserved by a due consideration of providence as by anything whatsoever.” Ah, yes! May the Lord bless us all with the sweet felicity of a resigned will! For we are not alone now or ever and in that we may rest secure in all of our doings. Scripture, prayer, and experience have taught us that the Lord never abandons us, that He never will, and that even when we believe not our wonderful God is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. Laus Deo!