Psalm 3:5 and letting go of the day

I’ve been reading through the Psalms as a part of morning prayer. I’m always surprised at how surprised I am by the Psalms. How could I have forgotten their power and diverse array of emotions and God-centeredness so easily? I guess that’s all our temptation: forgetting what God has done for us and given us. It’s a good reminder of our finitude. Which is exactly what I’ve been reflecting on the past few days, particularly after reading Psalm 3.

In Psalm 3, the Psalmist cries out to God because of troubling opposition. “Many there are who say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in his God.'” And yet, in the midst of this, the Psalmist speaks of God being near, sustaining, defending, saving. Verse 5 stuck out to me: “I lay down and slept, and rose up again, for the LORD sustained me.” Anytime LORD in caps is used, the word is translating the covenant name of God, YHWH. The God who sustains our finitude, which requires us to sleep and stop doing things, is the God who enters into covenant with His people, making promises and working out His salvation.

To lie down and sleep at the end of the day is hard, even during non-pandemic times. The world tells us there is more to do, more to accomplish, it’s all on us. But Psalms like Psalm 3 are a good reminder of the truth: we are sustained by the one who never sleeps, so we can rest assured that God is sustaining all things, even when we let go to sleep. At a book club meeting recently a friend mentioned that he struggled, at the end of the day, to release the day’s work and just sleep. I completely resonate with that. To accept finitude is hard. It feels like everything could fall apart if I’m not doing something!

But thanks be to God that He doesn’t sleep. He is God, we are not. And of course, He will save and is saving. After all, Jesus name, Joshua, means “YHWH saves.” “Salvation belongs to the LORD; may your blessing be upon your people” (3:8). Lie down and rest. You are not sustained by you, but by God.

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