Psalm Three: I Lay Down and Slept; I Woke Again
When King David was forced to flee from his own son Absalom, who had raised up such a rebellion against him that the great majority of the people thought his salvation was impossible, he cried out to the Lord, and then lay down and slept. Many thought this a sleep from which he would never arise, for thousands of people had set themselves around him, and were bent on his destruction; but he woke again, for God sustained him; and thenceforth, his Lord rose up to destroy his enemies, and crush them beneath his feet.
How was it, you may ask, that under such troubling circumstances the king was able to sleep at all? How did he have such peace and faith in the sure salvation of his God, when all hope seemed lost? To answer that question, dear, troubled Christian, I must tell you the story again, but this time, tell it of the greater David, whom the first David foreshadowed.
When the Son of David, Jesus Christ our Lord, was betrayed by his own disciple, and surrounded by his own people, Israel, whom he had named a firstborn son when he called them out of Egypt (Exodus 4:22), then he was in an agony indeed. â€œO Lord, many are rising up against me!â€ he cried out as his forerunner, David, had cried out before. And in this, ah, how truly he spoke. For surely, in the city of David, there were gathered together against God's holy servant Jesus, whom he anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do what God's own hand and plan had predestined to take place, which was nothing less than the crucifixion of the Son of God (Acts 4:27-28). When did ever man cry out to God like this man, who offered up his soul with groanings that could not be uttered (see Hebrews 5:7), and breathed out things too hard to comprehend, both in his agony at the Garden and his passion on the cross? And when was man ever surrounded by fiercer enemies? When did salvation ever seem further away?
And how can I tell what happened next? For then the Lord of life, the Son of David, of whom it was promised that he would reign forever, laid down his life (cf. John 10:11, 15, 17-18) and slept the sleep of death. He poured out his soul as a sin offering (Isaiah 53:12), and gave himself up to be buried with the transgressors (Isaiah 53:9); and what did the many think, but that he would never rise again, for his enemies were all about him, gnashing upon him with their cruel fangs? For three days he slept; but then, O Christian, that event which is the very heart of Christianity took place on Sunday: the greater David awoke again, because the Lord sustained him! Death's sting had been cut off, the victory of the grave had been swallowed up in defeat, and the thousands who had set themselves against the Christ were overwhelmed. Christ has risen again, his triumph, in the face of a defeat that seemed inescapable, is complete, he has henceforth but to wait until the Lord places all his enemies under his footstool (Heb. 10:12-13). Soon, according to his promise, God will strike all his enemies on the cheekbone, and break the teeth of the wicked.
What can we take away from this, dear Christian, but that same blessed hope with which David laid down his head to sleep, when the trials were so hard: â€œSalvation belongs to the Lord! your blessing be on your peopleâ€? If David could sleep on the surety of such a promise, how can we not rest ourselves in utter certainty, who have not just the hope of the first David, but the perfect fulfillment and victory of the second? What enemy can overcome us? Christ has died and is risen again, and now intercedes at the right hand of the Father, and reigns from the throne of David. Press on in hope, dear saint, no matter how many enemies may surround you, enemies of sin and death, the world, the flesh and the devil, things present and things to come, famine and distress and nakedness and peril and the sword â€“ rejoice and lay down your head to rest, for the Lord who raised up his Christ from the dead will sustain you too. Salvation belongs to the Lord! May his blessing always rest upon his people.