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What does it mean that “I will lie down and sleep in peace” (Psalm 4:8)?

I will lie down and sleep in peace

King David was no stranger to adversity and persecution. Yet, even at the end of a long and troubling day, David was able to declare, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

The dominant theme of Psalm 4 is the quiet assurance of God’s sovereignty amid life’s hardships and storms. It is considered an “Evening Psalm,” traditionally offered to God as a prayer to close the day. Its companion, Psalm 3, is an early morning supplication containing similar words of trust: “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me” (Psalm 3:5).

David penned Psalm 4 during one of the most painful episodes of his kingship—his son Absalom’s rebellious conspiracy and uprising (2 Samuel 15—18). In desperation, David called on the Lord to hear his prayer and give relief from his distress (Psalm 4:1). God answered David’s prayer by filling his heart with abundant joy, more than a farmer might feel when his crops abound with plenty (Psalm 4:7).

In addition, the Lord quieted David’s anxious heart, allowing him to lie down and sleep in peace (Psalm 4:8). David practiced the same discipline the apostle Paul taught believers: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).

None of us are immune from difficulty in this life. But to all believers who trust God by calling out to Him in prayer, He promises to transform anxiety into peaceful assurance. As the “Prince of Preachers,” Charles H. Spurgeon, eloquently expressed, “The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests His head at night, giving perfect peace” (quoted by Lawson, S., Psalms 1—75, Vol. 11, Anders, M., ed., Holman Reference, 2004, p. 33).

Only the sovereign God who reigns supreme over the universe can cause our troubled and fearful hearts to rest in genuine peace. Only the Lord’s supernatural, serene contentment allows us to sleep through the night even in the fiery furnace of adversity.

David’s prayer life overflowed from a close and vibrant relationship with the living God. He was confident God would hear him in his day of trouble (Psalm 50:15). David’s trust was based on God’s love. First John 4:18 informs, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” David knew from experience that the Lord “grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:2).

David could lie down and sleep in peace because the Lord made him “dwell in safety.” The word for “safety” in the original language means “freedom from anxiety and fear.” David’s heart inhabited a place free of panic and worry. The Lord had become David’s “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble”; therefore, he did not “fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalm 46:1–2).

Our joy, contentment, and peace depend not on our circumstances but on the sustaining provision and protection of the Lord (Nehemiah 8:10; Romans 14:17; 15:13; Philippians 4:11–13).

If you have trouble falling (or staying) asleep and want to testify like David, “I will lie down and sleep in peace,” consider meditating on Psalm 3:5 and 4:8 before going to bed. Another remarkable promise to commit to memory is found in Proverbs 3:24: “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Allow the truth of God’s Word to saturate your mind and comfort your heart as you trust in Him. And remember, prayer is your most powerful resource in times of distress. Take your requests to the Lord, and then let His supernatural peace flood your soul with quiet reassurance that surpasses human understanding.

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Questions about Psalms

What does it mean that “I will lie down and sleep in peace” (Psalm 4:8)?
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This page last updated: January 4, 2022