These Psalms were possibly written at the same time. We know that Psalm 3 was written by David, and it relates to the situation in 2 Samuel 15:13 - 17:22 when David's son, Absalom, conspired to overthrow him, and he had to flee from Jerusalem.
Some scholars think both Psalms were written at the same time because of parallel references to:
But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head (3:3).
How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame (4:2)?
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me (3:5).
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety (4:8)
Throughout the years, I have let those words;
I will lie down and sleep in peace
for You alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety. . .
wash over me like a soothing balm during sleepless nights rife with anxiety and fear. Tonight, I pulled out an old Bible and read what I wrote next to this verse many years ago:
" Even in distress away from
the visible evidence of God's goodness."
In addition, dates from 1985 to 1994 were scrawled next to this verse that were no doubt added in the wee hours of the morning where sleep had eluded me because of anxiety once again. I was an insomniac for many years. In fact, there was one stretch of time prior to my nervous breakdown in 1983 when I had not slept peacefully through the night for 4 1/2 years!
At that time, I could not see God's goodness on the surface, but I tenaciously claimed this verse as my own with eyes of faith to believe that He was good despite my circumstances. I knew that He would keep me safe through the storms just as he kept David safe from distresses far worse than my own. I knew that God cared even though His goodness was not evident on the surface.
I have seen great growth in this area of my life in more recent years. In 2001, I experienced one of the worst distresses of my life, but I slept like a baby in the arms of God every night! In the midst of it, I realized that it was a "moment that had been gaining on me, secretly, like a piece of music played while I slept" (from Lief Enger's Peace Like a River). This Psalm that had once been a "strange song" to me, was one I "knew by heart". That was a lovely moment of transformation.
Perhaps you are one who deals regularly with anxiety and fear. Let me encourage you to "cast your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Here is a little exercise that I do periodically that I adapted from a class by my friend, Beth Lambright, on "The Devoted Life."
There is something about physically casting your anxieties on the Lord that cements it. While George and I were dating, I went to a river with one of his fishing rods and did one cast for every single thing that was causing me anxiety in our relationship. There were MANY casts made that day including one about whether he was EVER going to ask me to marry him! And that cast was the only one that hooked me a fish! Three months later we were engaged!
You do not have to use a fishing rod, but you can take rocks and "cast" them into a river or a lake or write your burdens down on pieces of paper and burn them one by one in a fire or crinkle them up and throw them in a trash can. However you decide to do it, start casting and make it a regular habit!
Sleep in peace, my friends. The Lord cares for you and is with you to keep you safe from all harm!
Lord, thank You that You care for us and love us deeply. Sometimes our circumstances overwhelm us to where we are even robbed of sleep. Draw us to Yourself during that time. Teach us to "lie down and sleep in peace" knowing that You are a God who "makes us dwell in safety" and security because of Your great love for us. Teach us to daily "cast our cares upon You because You care for us." We love You LORD and thank You for Your peace and protection. We ask this all in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus. Amen.