We see David beseeching the Lord in Psalm 13:3( KJV):

Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

< Here,we see a connection between eyesight and death, though not explained by the Psalmist. Is it that he means death other than physical death ? My question is : What is meant by sleep of death in Psalm 13:3 ?

1 Answer 1


Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;

lighten mine eyes:

He asks the Lord to light up his eyes. In Hebrew thinking, light was the embodiment of wisdom, truth, and goodness. David is asking God to grant him a proper perspective on his troubling situation. - (bibleref.com)

Ellicott's Commentary says:

Lighten.—Literally, give light to my eyes that I may not go to sleep in death, i.e., go to sleep and never wake; “sleep unto death,”

lest I sleep the sleep of death:

The external resemblance of a corpse to a sleeping person was the root of the metaphor, and we shall do wrong to conclude from its employment anything with respect to the psalmist's views concerning the real nature of death. - (Pulpit Commentary)

When David prays, “lighten mine eyes,” it can be understood as a plea for God to revive and restore him, to bring him out of his current state of despair.

Conclusion: So, in context, the “sleep of death” does not refer to a type of death other than physical death, but rather to death itself. David is expressing his feeling of being close to death and is calling on God to save him

There are many instances in the Bible where death is comparable to a “sleep”. Here are some examples:

Job 7:21: "Now shall I sleep in the dust".

Job 14:12: "So man lies down and does not rise. Until the heavens are no longer, He will not awake nor be aroused out of his sleep".

Psalm 13:3: "Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; Enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death".

Daniel 12:2: "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt".

Matthew 9:24: "He said, ‘Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.’ And they began laughing at Him".

Mark 5:39: "And entering in, He *said to them, ‘Why make a commotion and weep? The child has not died, but is asleep.’ And they began laughing at Him".

Luke 8:52-53: "Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, ‘Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.’ And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died".

1 Kings 2:10: "Then David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David".

Deuteronomy 31:16: "The Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them’".

2 Samuel 7:12: "When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom".

These verses are to show that the metaphor of sleep to describe death is a common theme throughout the Bible.

  • 1
    +1. Good answer. It could be improved by show the many occasions in the NT where death is reffered to as a "sleep".
    – Dottard
    2 days ago
  • @Dottard thank you for the feedback. I have included some verses!
    – Jason_
    2 days ago
  • 1
    Thanks, Jason_ for the well resources answer. By the way, in literature, sleep is more used as a Euphemism than as a Metaphor. according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, in euphemism is defined as “the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant”. 23 hours ago

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