In peace I will both lie down and sleep;

for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Psalm 4: 8

 

Sleep is a wonderful thing. There are innumerable studies that demonstrate its value and connection in maintaining or regaining health. These bodies were created to enter into those restorative daily times of sabbatical from all else that we are dealing with in our lives. That idea of sleep as a form of sabbatical also involves the primary element of the biblical ones, and that is trust. When we enter fully into sabbatical, whether for a day or for a year as in some older practices, we trust the Lord to provide and to protect. In sabbatical living we are to surrender control of the course of our journey to God, set aside our defensive and our offensive practices, and grant to the Lord total sovereignty over every breath that we take.

 

So, perhaps in making this comparison between holy sabbatical and sleep I am over valuing something that is just a natural part of the way that people are constructed. Yet, I wonder, and I do so for two reasons. On the one hand, sleep itself is restorative, healing, and replenishes us in order to continue the life that God has set out for each person; yet, it can be easily interrupted, disturbed, and become illusive. In the other instance, sabbatical is also restorative, healing, and brings about a very special form of healing from the Lord. Here is where I think that they connect. When Davis wrote this Psalm and those around it he was living in dangerous and troubled times. There were certainly days when sleep was hard to find and in which closing his eyes for even a few minutes was risky.

 

For David to indicate that he could lie down and sleep was no small statement, and for him to say that he could do so in peace was monumental. Although he was talking about that particular time of trouble in his life, the same sort of truth applied to the rest of his life, and it is also true for me and for everyone who knows Christ. Although it can be very hard to let go of the issues, both small and large, in our lives in order to allow our minds and bodies to relax into sleep, Christ speaks trust into our hearts as He brings truth and real perspective to our minds. As with David, the only actual safety we will experience comes in and from the presence of the Lord. He cares about and for each of His people and He is present with us in His absolute sovereignty over this world. So, Christ calls upon us to be people who daily repent of our sins, trust His grace and forgiveness, set aside our fearful and aggressive ways, and allow His Spirit to speak truth and Godly wisdom into our troubles and cares. This is what it means to enter into the God-given gift of sabbatical, and this is what allows our bodies to be at peace in those daily times of sabbatical sleep.