Last night I slid into the comfort of my bed and felt safe and secure. What is it about an old, familiar mattress that makes us feel that way? There’s a kind of nostalgia that comes over a person, which some have described with the metaphor of returning to the warmth and nurture of your mothers womb. Others compare the feeling to coming home after a long journey. Maybe those images are a bit too dramatic, but its certainly true that for many of us the moment when we finally pull the covers up after a long day is one of life’s special pleasures.
There are quite a few allusions in the Bible to our thoughts and feelings in bed. There is the acknowledgment that this is the setting where the intimacies of people joined by physical and emotional attraction are expressed, whether in the God-blessed union of marriage (Song of Solomon 3:1, Hebrews 13:4) or in more questionable relationships (Proverbs 7:17, Isaiah 57:8, Ezekiel 23:1, Revelation 2:22). But bed is more often described as a place where profound private experiences take place. The Bible tells us about how God sometimes speaks through dreams during sleep to communicate important messages (as in the cases of Joseph, Daniel and others). He seems to use this avenue to a person’s unconscious self to bypass conscious arguments and questions that may interfere with the radical message he wants to get across.
But more often, the Bible alludes to those wakeful times before sleep, or interrupting the period of slumber, or early in the morning upon awakening and before climbing out and into a new day. A person who is lying in bed awake, during the stillness and aloneness of the night, finds that all thoughts and feelings seem strangely different. Anxieties and fears are magnified compared to how they appear “in the light of day.” Relationships may seem less secure and dependable. Memories from long ago intermingle with recent events and change our perspective on their meaning.
Some of the most profound expressions about our bed-selves are found in the Psalms. In the minutes and hours of wakefulness in bed, our feelings of frustration and despair may overwhelm us:
“I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.” (Psalm 6:6)
Sometimes our darker thoughts and motives may rise to the surface:
“They plot mischief while on their beds;
they are set on a way that is not good.” (Psalm 36:4)
But it is also during these quiet times in bed that we may come to know ourselves in a deeper way and control evil impulses:
When you are disturbed, do not sin;
commune with your own heart on your beds, and be silent. (Psalm 4:4)
In the best bed moments, we are able to experience God in a way that’s not possible during the active life of daytime hours:
“My mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” (Psalm 63:5-6)
Most likely, it’s only believers who have known the Lord for a long time who learn to use their nighttime periods of wakefulness to grow in their ability to praise God:
“Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.” (Psalm 149:5-6)
For people who are able to experience this, even insomnia can be turned from a curse into a blessing. “Singing for joy” on your bed is much more rewarding than counting sheep. Drifting off with a praise song in your heart can be euphoric, a worship high.