How to Overcome Anxiety and Get a Good Night’s Sleep (Thoughts on Psalm 3)

sleep-manDo you ever struggle to get a good night’s sleep because the troubles of the day consume you? How do we turn off our anxious mind and let the body get the rest it needs? Psalm 3 provides an answer to this age-old problem. This article will explain how David slept well when surrounded by turmoil.


Many psalms provide valuable information in the heading that precedes the first verse. Psalm 3 tells us that this song was written by David “when he fled from his son Absalom.” So we would do well to read the account found in 2 Samuel 15, in which David’s own son rebels against him and causes David to run for his life.

With this the backstory in mind, let us see how David dealt with a most stressful situation.

He cried out to God.
God knows everything, yet David presents his plight in prayer. “O Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, ‘God will not deliver him’” (Psalm 3:1-2).

Even though God knows more about our situation than we do, he wants us to take our worries to him in prayer. David held nothing back. He poured out his heart to his God. And so should we. No matter how hopeless things look, no matter how desperate we become, God wants us to come to him with all our anxieties lay them at his feet.

David’s song should be our testimony: “To the Lord I cry aloud; and he answers me from his holy hill” (Psalm 3:4).

He filled his worried mind with great thoughts about God.
But David did not remain in this state of frustration. Notice how conscious he is of the greatness of God. “But you are a shield around me, O Lord, my Glorious One, who lifts up my head” (Psalm 3:3).

The antidote to anxiety is to think about God. When we turn out thoughts to the Creator of heaven and earth, worry turns into confidence – not proud self-confidence, but humble God-confidence.

Yes, David expresses his despair in verses 1 and 2. But then his faith enables him to climb out of this pit of sorrow and experience the sweet solitude of God’s protective hand of mercy. God is his shield; God is his glory; God is the lifter of his head.

He got a good night’s sleep.
David’s faith in God opened the door to restful slumber in the most difficult of circumstances. “I lie down and sleep” (Psalm 3:5). He says this so calmly, it is easy to miss the significance. He is about to lose the kingdom of Israel to his own flesh and blood, yet he is able to go to bed, lie down and fall asleep. How can this be? Shouldn’t he be up all night, tossing and turning?

That is how many of us react to stress. Oh, that we would have the faith of David! He provides a wonderful example of what to do when anxiety overwhelms us: pour out your heart to God in prayer; then focus on Him. Spend time meditating on God’s character. Read the Word and fill your mind with big thoughts about your big God.

Late at night, it is possible for us to say, “I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side” (Psalm 3:6). And in the morning, the believer can proclaim, “I wake again, because the Lord sustains me” (Psalm 3:5).

Wayne Davies

Wayne Davies

To receive 2 free gifts to help you read, study and understand the Bible, just click on my picture (to the left) or my name (directly above).
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