John Barnett Discover the Book Daily Devotional
<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - July 16, 2007

  • 2007 Jul 16

David: Sleeping in the Shadow of Danger

Or The Grace of Sleep

Psalm 3




In the midst of the worst time of his life David fell sound asleep. In the midst of one of the most dangerous situations David had ever faced he relaxed, sang a song to the Lord and laid down--completely confident that the Lord would protect him.


Have you ever really thought about why we sleep as humans? In fact, have you considered that every one of us will probably spend about 1/3rd of our life sleeping? And that sleep is not an accident—God is the designer and promoter of sleep?


Yes, God designed sleep for us His creatures. But why? As believers who look at life through the lens of God's Word (just as we are to do with all the rest of life)—we need to see sleep and life as having the very signature of God written across it. When God has designed something it is very special and has specific purposes that God wants us to know about. So have you gained the benefits of knowing what God has to say about one-third of our lives?


First just list off in your mind what sleep means:


  • Sleep means that work must stop.
  • Sleep means that a day must end.
  • Sleep means that our strength has been depleted and must be renewed.
  • Sleep means that our minds have become weary and must be refreshed.
  • Sleep means that our bodies have gotten exhausted and must be restored.
  • Sleep means that we have limitations that must be faced.
  • Sleep means that we have a dependence that must be acknowledged.
  • Sleep means that we must deny self-sufficiency. As Psalm 121 tells us:


So one of the clearest reasons for sleep is to remind every human on this planet, and especially us believers—that God is God and we are not. We are helpless, limited, and dependent. But that is not all. Sleep can also be one of the most beautiful reminders of what true saving faith looks like.


In a few hours when it comes to be your time to sleep, think of what you will do. You will plan to end activities, end conversations, and even end your consciousness of life around you and lay the full weight of your body on an object that can hold you up (usually a bed). Then as you lay down you must choose to completely trust that something else other than yourself will hold you up while you are no longer able to take care of yourself. That is pure faith.

So David laid down and slept in Psalm 3:5 in his most vulnerable hour. Are you facing danger, adversaries, uncertainty about the future, even the possibility of death? Then David’s discoveries in this 3rd Psalm are for you. David slept in the face of danger and possible death—and so can we if we understand what he understood, and believe what he believed.


It must have been amazing to travel with David. For those 30 mighty men that always stayed near David, just like Christ's disciples—some pretty amazing memories must have been their’s.


For Joab, this evening must have been the most amazing. As we saw last time, David fled for his life, Absalom was mobilizing and meeting with his rebel forces and they were poised to swoop down on David and his little band.


David and his entourage has walked from Jerusalem, down Mt. Zion, across the Kidron book, up the Mt. of Olives and paused. There at the top we found this life defining moment. As we saw last time, it was what David really was on the inside.


When David was at his lowest moment of his life--he bows and worshipped and offered up a Psalm of praise to God—even through bitter tears of sorrow and grief.


2 Samuel 15:30, 32 So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up; and he had his head covered and went barefoot. And all the people who were with him covered their heads and went up, weeping as they went up. 32 Now it happened when David had come to the top of the mountain, where he worshiped God—there was Hushai the Archite coming to meet him with his robe torn and dust on his head. NKJV


God’s servants can continue in worship even when life is tough, difficult, and almost looking like it is impossible to go on. That is what we find in the exact record of the worship that flowed from David’s heart and onto paper as Psalm 3.


This song David shares is what can flow from us if we like him—bow in worship when the bitter tears of sorrow and grief fall across our lives.


David trusted God’s control. He relied upon it and prayed for it. Instead of fear he had faith and gave worship.


Onward David trudged after that brief worship stop. Soon insult was added to injury. Shimei kicks David when he is down. Spraying him with curses, dust, and stones. Onward trudges the man after God’s own heart until at last safely across the Jordan River and in the wilderness camp came be made for the night.


Joab, commander in chief of all David’s armies is feverish in preparation. Guards are posted, troops are stations. Concentric rings of defenses are planned and prepared so that the 600 seasons soldiers that marched out with David are arrayed to face any army and any enemy that would come on this very vulnerable night.


Joab is tense as he comes back to camp. He is worried that a frontal assault by Absalom’s army could overwhelm his perimeter. He wonders about taking David deeper into the wilderness or finding some other spot. With his head just spinning with all these thoughts he greets David.


For the first time in hours he sees him all alone and realizes that something is completely different about David. Gone are the red swollen eyes of the morning. Back are the clear and bright eyes he remembered from so many years of fighting alongside of this giant of a man. David was calm, peaceful and actually joyous. He begins to tell Joab what the Lord had done in his heart. Incredulous Joab smiles, shakes his head and hurries off to check the defensive positions one more time.


This time as Joab comes back he is struck with and even more amazing sight. David is on the ground, an animal skin unrolled in front of him, and with pen and ink in hand he is busily writing just like Joab remembered from those days in the Cave of Adullam as David wrote Psalm 56 and 142; just like he remembered in those days of fleeing from King Saul when David wrote Psalms or songs to the Lord. And here he is at it again.


Finishing up, David holds up the scroll to the fading light of the evening sky. Reads it over as he quietly sings it to a tune he had made and then rolls it up, ties a cord about it and tucks it into his cloak. David has just written Psalm 3. And then he turns, unrolls his sleeping bag, lies down and soon is sound asleep. In the very presence of his enemies, in the middle of the camp that could be over run at any moment—David sleeps. Joab marvels again at this man after God’s own heart.


Please turn there with me to Psalm 3. And follow along as I read to you David’s song of trust in God.


Psalm 3:1-8 A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son. NKJV


o       1 Lord, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me. 2 Many are they who say of me, “There is no help for him in God.” SELAH

o       3 But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. 4 I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. SELAH

o       5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. 6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me all around. 7 Arise, O Lord; Save me, O my God! For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone; You have broken the teeth of the ungodly. 8 Salvation belongs to the Lord. Your blessing is upon Your people. SELAH


When David is at the bottom, comes to his weakest point—and gets hit while he is down, what does he do?


He writes a Psalm. A Psalm is a worship song, truth offered to God in worship that is to be shared by participation. David invites us by God’s help and power to join in and participate in praising God for what He has done.


The 3rd Psalm is an amazing Psalm because it actually introduces us to this Book of Psalms.


If you stepped back and look at the Psalms, there are 150 of them. Now look at the superscription or first words of this Psalm. Here is what we observe:

  • This is the first one that is called a Psalm, ‘A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.’
  • This is also the first Psalm that is attributed to David. ‘A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.’
  • This is the first Psalm that gives us a Divinely written setting in the first verse of the Hebrew text. ‘A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.’
  • This is the first Psalm to use the Divinely placed pause to think about an important point. That pause we know as the Selah. Selah: “to pause and lift up”; it can be freely rendered: “There! What do you think of that?”
    • Occurs once (in 16 different Psalms): Psalms 7; 20; 21; 44; 47; 48; 50; 54; 60; 61; 75; 81; 82; 83; 85; 143;
    • occurs twice (in 15 different Psalms): Psalms 4; 9; 24; 39; 49; 52; 55; 57; 59; 62; 67; 76; 84; 87; 88;
    • occurs three times (in 7 different Psalms): Psalms 3; 32; 46; 66; 68; 77; 140;
    • occurs four times (in only 1 Psalm): Psalm 89;
    • And occurs first in Psalm 3 three times!


Psalm 3:1-8 (NIV) A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.


o       LORD, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! 2 Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah

o       3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. 4 To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah

o       5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. 6 I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side. 7 Arise, O LORD! Deliver me, O my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. 8 From the LORD comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people. Selah


This Psalm is set in the context of battles. If you trace through the verses you find about seven different indications of warfare and battlefields are the setting:


1.      David was facing “foes” NIV; “adversaries” NAS (v. 1);

2.      David needed a “shield” (v. 3);

3.      David saw them deployed like an army v.6 “set against me” (NAS/NKJV) “drawn up against me” (NIV);

4.      David calls them “enemies (v. 7);

5.      David cries “arise O Lord” v.7 and uses the actual formula for entering battle from Numbers 10:35;

6.      David speaks of armies (“people” in v. 8 can also be used for an army);

7.      David sought victory implied by the word “deliverance” (v. 8 NIV), and deliverance from the Lord is a war cry.


This Psalm divides up the message God is giving through David by the use of the word SELAH. As we have seen, Selah means ‘lift up’ and is a musical term for crescendo. It means boom it out, crank it up—punctuate that with emphasis. Then stop and ask yourself what do you think of that?


  1. So at the end of verse two, ‘many say there is no help for him in God.’ Selah—boom! Stop and consider this. What do you think of that? And David pauses and thinks about that and he finds a lifetime of definite proof that God did care for him.


  1. So at the end of verse four he says, ‘He answered me…’. Selah—boom! Stop and consider this. What do you think of that? And David reflects upon his steadfast hope, and confident faith that God has always listened, responded, and rescued him in the past and will continue to do so.


  1. So at the end of verse eight he says, ‘Salvation is of the Lord’. Selah—boom! Stop and consider this. What do you think of that? And David reflects upon the truth that it is God who alone can save us from all and any of our deepest troubles.


These three uses of ‘Selah’ make three very clear divisions that are the message points of this Psalm.


This message will conclude tomorrow July 17th. We are all like David and face battles every day in life. We will look at this comparison tomorrow.

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit

More Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett Articles