The Small Watches of the Night
David was a man after God’s own heart. Some of the most beautiful verses in Holy Scripture were authored by him through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Not only some of the most beautiful, but some of the most meaningful as well.
Have you ever awoken in the night, and thought upon the Living God? David did…
On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night. (Psalm 63:6)
Sadly, and more so now than at any time before, we live in a ‘hurry up’ world that is so hectic that, while we have time for everything else that really doesn’t matter at all, we don’t have time for the one thing that really does matter.
What am I speaking of? The Living God.
With nightfall, when we decide, even if it may be with some reluctance, to put aside the sensory overload that life has become; the many thoughts that crowd our minds constantly during the fever of the day seem to fade in their intensity, and the lure of the world does not seem so bright. We are alone with ourselves, and both curiously and happily, we accept that. The body is tired, and the mind is tired.
The soul is never tired.
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? (Psalm 42:1-2)
God is open for business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He doesn’t have any “down time”, so the body follows in the wake of the soul:
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. (Psalm 16:7)
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. (Psalm 119:148)
And we do more…
Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin; pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord. (Lamentations 2:19)
Praying in the night hours is one of my delights. Ah! Alone at last with the Lord of my life, not only thankful for what He has made the old day to be, but also for what the remainder of the old day might still yet be. Or if I have awoken in the dark young hours of a new day, thankful for what lies ahead. A small watch of the night is perhaps the most perfect time to commune with God: we have time for critical introspection, we have time to prepare our hearts to meet with God, we have time to enter the pervasive quiet of a holy solitude, we have time to set aside, and to be in Godly sorrow for, our arrogance, haughtiness, pride and sins, we have time for…
the Living God.
Because of this, as promised, we dwell with and rest in God:
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
Above everything else, we are assured of a solemn promise of God (italic emphasis mine):
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)
For a Christian believer, night is never a time for fear. Remember that God made the night on the very first day of Creation:
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning – the first day. (Genesis 1:3-5)
Because of the testimony of Holy Scripture, we know what God is (italic emphasis mine):
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
So God gave even His night a light, reflecting His glory (italic emphasis mine):
God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the fourth day. (Genesis 1:16-19)
All that God has done is good, reflecting His perfection. Note that the lights created by God were created to govern day and night: God is a God of order, and to the end that He might have our love, He has made both day and night to be seasons when we who have been created in His image can call upon Him. Why should our praise of God be constrained to the daylight hours? No less a One than Jesus Christ, the Son of God, prayed fervently in a small watch of the night:
They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” (Mark 14:32-34)
Jesus Christ had confidence to go to His Father at all times… do we have the same confidence? Are we to be afraid of any darkness… the dark of God’s own night, or a dark night of the soul caused by the evil one? NO!
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
Do not hesitate to indulge in your ‘nocturnal song’! Any time of the day… any time of the night… God is willing to hear you. Call on His Name, because there is power in it: Oh, what a great and precious promise, indeed!
As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:11-13)