Contributors to, Tracts for the Times
I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, LORD, only make me dwell in safety.
This is one of the many verses in the Bible, especially in the Psalms, which, must come home to every heart of man, if read with any degree of simple faith. It sets full before us the most comfortable and refreshing picture or a devout, sober, honest person, after his day's work is ended, his passions kept in order, his sins repented of, and his prayers seriously said, laying himself down to his night's rest, in the full consciousness that he is neither alone nor unguarded; that as there has. been a merciful Eye watching over him, a mighty Hand stretched out to guard him, through the dangers and temptations of the day, so it will be with him in the night also. This entire rest and tranquillity of God's faithful servants, when they lay them down on their bed at night, is beautifully expressed in the text, "I will lay me down 'all together'"; all my powers of mind and body agreeing, as it were, one with another; not torn by violent passions, by desire on the one hand, and remorse on the other. How catholic, how universal is the thought expressed by the Psalmist. There is no one condition of life that it suits better than another. The need of taking rest is an universal law of God's providence over men here in this lower world. As death, so sleep may be truly called a great leveller. As sleep is the image of death, and as the slumber of every night is a kind of sacramental token of that last long sleep, these words may be used for a dying Christian also. Only a Christian has a warrant from Holy Scripture to regard death as no more than a quiet sleep. The Father, acknowledging them as His children, receives them at their death into the everlasting arms. As all the blessings which we have or hope for depend on the Passion of our Lord and Saviour, so this blessing of taking our rest, whether in our bed or in the grave, seems to bear an especial relation to the mystery of the burial of Jesus Christ. Our warrant for our hope is that the Son of God died for us, bought us to be His own in such sort, that we should be really joined to Him, mystically made members of His body. As members, inseparable members, of the Man Christ Jesus, we hope to have our bodies buried with Him; and for our souls, our true selves, we hope that when they pass away from our bodies they may be with Him that day in Paradise. Except we have this hope in us, we cannot apply to ourselves the comfortable words of this Psalm. How is it that in sleep, and still more in death, Christian men may humbly depend on a peculiar presence of our Lord Jesus Christ to guard them?
1. Because He is King, who has promised, "He that keepeth thee will not sleep."
2. In this act of lying down comes in the remembrance and the power of our Lord's sacrifice. That deep sleep of His, on the Cross and in the grave, has sanctified and blessed the sleep of all penitent Christians for all time to come, whether in their beds or in the bosom of the earth. Sin and its punishment, disease and misery, is the great disturber of sleep. Then to have a reasonable hope, grounded on a good conscience, that blemished as you are with many infirmities, you have not forfeited the blessing of Christ's death; this is the secret of good nights, and a comfortable death time. Again, we are taught in Holy Scripture to regard the Holy Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ as one very especial safeguard for the sleeping, until they wake, and for the dead, until they rise again.
(Contributors to "Tracts for the Times.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.