If you have ever lost a night's sleep due to fear or worry, you know what a blessing it is to have a sense of security and peace as you go to bed. That is what God promises to those who base their lives upon His wisdom and Word. Since so many have trouble sleeping, let’s take a closer look at what God says will bring us a sleep that is sweet.
To get the full story on God’s secure, sweet sleep you need to go back as far as verse 21. The first thing we learn is that we need to keep sound wisdom and discretion with us. Solomon uses the picture of wearing such things like a necklace around your neck. What are these things? Sound wisdom is a word that means to have wisdom that is applied to your life. This applied, sound, wisdom brings a continuing success in walking in God’s ways. Added to this is discretion, which means to have a purpose or plan that guides you in all that you do. It refers to having a worldview or a plan for life that is based on the wisdom of God’s Word. How do you get such things – this sound wisdom and life plan or purpose? You get them by being often in God’s Word – reading and learning from God to see things the way that He sees them. Thus the Word of God and the wisdom of God become not just a quick answer to a question. You get the answer then move on to life on your own. No, this sound wisdom is a lifestyle of following after God and His Word.
The result of this is blessings on the inside, thus the comment on our soul receiving life. When we hold fast to God’s wisdom there is a life given to our soul. Our mind, will, and emotions are helped by God’s wisdom. Our mind is instructed, our will commanded, and our emotions are quieted by God’s wisdom. These are all things that would help contribute to sweet sleep. There are also outward blessings. The concept of the neck is interesting. When someone is “stiff-necked” the Bible is referring to him or her being disobedient and rebellious. When others are honored – they are said to receive a necklace around their neck. This was a symbol either of victory or of authority. There are also promises of walking in our lives safely and not stumbling as we walk. Having such promises again help to encourage a sense of security and safety with God guiding our lives.
The next verse is our focus verse – promising sleep that is sweet. This happens to us because we are no longer “afraid.” This is an interesting word (pahad) and it means to be in dread or a bad sense of awe of something or someone. Deuteronomy 28:66 uses this word in the following context.
“So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life. "In the morning you shall say, 'Would that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, 'Would that it were morning!' because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see.” Deuteronomy 28:66-67
This “dread” is because you have “no assurance of your life.” This speaks of someone who thinks that blind fate is responsible for whatever happens next. Someone sees the difficulties and disasters of this present world and as a result have no confidence – so much so that they dread when morning comes, wishing instead that it were evening – or wishing is was morning when it is evening. For the person who doesn’t understand God’s omniscience (knowing all things) and omnipotence (power over all things) and loving providence – life is terrifying. And that dread and terror makes it difficult for them to sleep at night.
Isaiah 33 also speaks of this kind of fear and dread.
“You who are far away, hear what I have done; And you who are near, acknowledge My might." Sinners in Zion are terrified; Trembling has seized the godless. "Who among us can live with the consuming fire? Who among us can live with continual burning?" He who walks righteously and speaks with sincerity, He who rejects unjust gain And shakes his hands so that they hold no bribe; He who stops his ears from hearing about bloodshed And shuts his eyes from looking upon evil; He will dwell on the heights, His refuge will be the impregnable rock; His bread will be given him, His water will be sure.” Isaiah 33:13-16
God speaks to Isaiah about sinners who are terrified about being confronted by God. They will not submit to Him – and as a result they eventually see that they shall stand before Him and give an account of their lives. This makes them tremble – because they have not chosen righteousness. Yet God’s word to the righteous is that they will dwell on the heights – with God as refuge – and with Him as an impregnable rock for their protection. Peace with God is something that people mock, and yet it should never be underrated. Knowing peace with God gives one a peace that according to the New Testament “surpasses understanding.”
What gives us sweet sleep in life? God has revealed that it is not a pill or some secret meditation or calming that is self-taught and self-empowered. Instead it is the wisdom of God infusing the soul. It is God’s Word in meditation and contemplation, giving us God’s perspective as well as keeping us in His way. There is no source that can rival a peace one has from Him. It is a peace that cannot be taken away by earthly powers. It is the kind of peace that allows us to sleep sweetly in the arms of His love because we know He watches over us. We sleep sweetly because we know that even death itself cannot separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. Such confidence breeds contentment. Such contentment breeds peace. Such peace results in sweet sleep.