Friday, May 21, 2010

Guidelines for a good sleep

What do you do before sleep? There are various ways of going to bed. Some people will like to read in bed and finally you will find them sleeping with an open book on their chest. Some people watch TV and doze off to sleep, the remote still in their hands. Some may have their earphones plugged in and the iPod still playing. However, there a number of people who go to bed fighting thoughts that wage war in their heads.

The psalmist who penned Psalm 4 talks about two such people because their thoughts while going to bed are different. While Psalm 3 is generally considered as a morning Psalm, Psalm 4 is considered as an evening Psalm. That means, a Psalm where the psalmist gathers his thought before retiring to bed.

The psalmist has been facing immense opposition from his enemies. His main worry is the plot of his enemies to spoil his reputation. He seems to be a man of some standing in the society, may be a king or a person of reputation. However, the plot is to spoil his reputation in society. That is why he cries, "How long will you people ruin my reputation? How long will you make groundless accusations?" (Psalm 4:2 NLT). A good name is important in his society where the controlling factor was shame. In his culture whether you are guilty or innocent doesn't matter much, but what matters is what people think of you.

This is enough to give sleepless nights. If his accusers can find enough buyers for all the false accusations they are making, then his very life even will be at risk. However, the psalmist is cool and composed. He is so cool to say to himself while going to bed: "In peace I lie down and sleep." (Psalm 4:8). His cool stems from his faith in God who makes him dwell safely (Psalm 4:8).

However, the people who are bent on spoiling his name in the society go to bed restless. Their heads are booming with plots and schemes to destroy the godly person who wrote this psalm. However, the psalmist full of confidence in his God has an advice laced with some sarcasm. "In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent." (Psalm 4:5). His advice is that do not lose your sleep thinking about the harm you can do to me. I am special to God and no harm can ever happen to me.

We can carry the anger and frustration of the day to bed at night and keep ourselves awake. Most of the time, the people who hurt us or people whom we are envious of, take shooting positions in our thoughts when we descend to bed. We lose our sleep because we fight battles that we should not fight in our thoughts. Some of us worry a lot about the harm others can do to us and lose our sleep. However, the example of the Psalmist is to sleep trusting in God. That quiet trust, which the psalmist who authored Psalm 3 also echoes is important: "I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me." (Psalm 3:5).


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