How can a young man
keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11
Our children need to be protected by God’s word when they sleep. We know this, at least in part, because Scripture promises it will offer protection while one is sleeping. By implication, those who do not seek the protection the Scriptures offer are vulnerable to spiritual attack during sleep. The question at the end of the last post was How do children acquire this protection? The verses above, from Psalm 119, are a good place to start.
The young man in the psalm first of all wants to be pure. This is no accident. His parents have prayed for him. They have spoken to him with pleasant words. This young man has seen his parents love and live the word of God. This young man has been adorned by the word of God—it has been given to him as if it were the most precious fine jewelry. The orientation of this young man is Godward. He is not perfect, but he longs after God. He sees the commands of God as something to live for, something to die for. Then he takes this treasure that is God’s word and stores it in his inner being. The Hebrew word used here for hidden is also translated stored up or treasured. So the idea is not to take God’s word and hide it away, but rather to place it deep within where it will always be available for use. When the word of God is valued in this way it will impact thoughts so deeply that even sleep will be protected and will bring honor to God. This is hiding the word in your heart.
As was mentioned before, this does not happen instantly or magically. Parents are striving for this goal when they reference God rather than themselves as the reason to obey. This is the result of faithfully and lovingly bringing the word of God to bear on the various situations of life (Deut. 6:4-7). Hebrews 4:12 says the Sword of the Spirit strikes deep into the heart, and that is what we want for our children.
For this to occur with children, it must first occur with parents. God’s word must be highly valued in all of life. Parents, are you experiencing sweet, protected sleep that is guarded by the teaching of Scripture? (Proverbs 6:22) Your problems, though more complex, are no more of a challenge for God than are those of your children. This idea of being able to sleep with the promises of Psalm 3 and 4 protecting you has practical implications for you and your children. If you are able to draw comfort from God’s word, even though there is financial pressure, work issues, and relational struggles, you can offer comfort to your child who struggles with the difficulties of childhood. And more importantly, you will help prepare your children for the fierce spiritual battles of the teenage years. Teenagers need the powerful spiritual protection of the Scriptures as they face the challenges of lust and fantasy that can dominate this period of life. It all fits together. Lovingly speaking the truth of God to your 4-year-old begins to lay the foundation for when he will be able to embrace that same truth in his youth.
One caveat: I am not saying that a Christian teenager with unsaved parents cannot know the transforming work of the Spirit. Neither am I saying that if this concept is new for you that all is lost. Don’t be discouraged if your past ways of life don’t fit God’s intended pattern; his mercy and grace is sufficient for all our failures. You can start to follow God in these ways now. His mercy brings hope even if we have not followed him as we should. What I am saying is that God’s design, his plan, is for parents to train their children in his ways through the use of Scripture. As parents, we must follow the pattern God has given for parenting. It is never too late to start following this pattern and experience his grace and mercy even if your past has been less than perfect!
Let me know your thoughts. May God grant to you sweet sleep in his name and for his glory.