The Fourth Watch of the Night

Have you ever found yourself waking up at around 3A.M.? Someone once told me that whenever you wake up at around that time, that it’s the Lord trying to speak to your spirit and that you should simply pray and listen. About a month ago, I started experiencing this pattern and found myself waking up at around 3:30A.M. I felt like the Spirit was trying to tell me something but I didn’t know what. It frustrated me because though my spirit would be awake, my mind kept telling me that in a few more hours I’d have to get ready for work and should probably get back to sleep. There would be this constant battle going on between my spirit, mind and flesh–and my natural strength would be at its weakest point because it’s too early in the morning.

This reminded me of the verse in Matthew 26:41 where Jesus states, “keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Just what is it about 3A.M. that has my God trying to get my attention? I was determined to know what this meant which led me to do research on something the Bible calls the fourth watch of the night.

The Romans occupied the Holy Land in 63 BC. The Roman night watch division consisted of four “watches” which was recognized among the Jews (Mark 13:35). Even before the Romans came; when the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was up, the Levites had watchmen that they needed to make sure they kept the fire burning on the Altar (Lev 6:5-6). Also when the watchmen would watch over Jerusalem against enemies or thieves, they had their own customary watches. The four watches which the Jews adopted from the Romans are:

6PM to 9PM First watch
9PM to 12AM Second watch
12AM to 3AM Third watch
3AM to 6AM Fourth watch

The Hebrew translation for “watchmen” is:

8104 shamar; to keep, watch, preserve, attend, bodyguard, gatekeeper, performing, sentries, diligently kept, observe, waiting, defending, pay attention, protects, maintain, mark.

I have collected several passages that reference this word.

Psalm 130:6

My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Song of Solomon 3:3

The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, [And I said,] ‘ Have you seen him whom my soul loves? ‘

Song of Solomon 5:7

The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me..

Ecclesiastes 12:3

In the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim;

Isaiah 62:6

On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; All day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves;

According to Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary, “watch” is defined as the following:

  1. To be awake; to be or continue without sleep.
  2. To be attentive; to look with attention or steadiness.
  3. To look with expectation.
  4. To keep guard; to act as sentinel; to look for danger.
  5. To be attentive, to be vigilant in preparation for an event or trial, the time of whose arrival is uncertain. (Matt 24 states Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come)

The Greek translation for “watch” is:

5438 phulake; from 5442; a guarding, guard, watch, time of the watch. Used (a) with the meaning “a watch,” actively, “a guarding,” Luke 2:8, lit., “(keeping, phulasso) watches;” (b) of “the time during which guard was kept by night, a watch of the night,” Matt. 14:25; 24:43; Mark 6:48; Luke 12:38.

Drawing from my studies on all of this, I found that there are significant Biblical events that took place during the early morning hours. In Genesis 32:22-31, Jacob wrestled with God face to face up until sunrise so as to receive his blessing. Moses led the Israelites across the Red Sea during the fourth watch in Exodus 14:25-26. Gideon defeated the Midianites in Judges 7:19-24. It was during this time that Jesus walked on water and saved His disciples from the storm, Matthew 14:25-26. Jesus would also pray during the early morning hours (Mark 1:35) and when Mary Magdalene had come to the tomb, she was the first one to meet the Risen Lord during the fourth watch of the night (John 20:17-18 ).

As I was praying about what the Lord wanted me to understand from all of this, He brought up a Bible verse to my mind–Proverbs 8:17.

I love those who love me; and those who seek me diligently will find me

The Hebrew word for diligent is shachar (7836, from 7837), meaning to look early for. It is the same as the Hebrew word shacharl (7837) which means dawn, daybreak, or morning.

The Lord wants us to seek Him in the early hours! It is during the fourth watch that I begin to feel more vulnerable in my circumstances, just as the disciples felt weak during the storm on the sea of Galilee. But Jesus said that if we seek Him diligently, we will find Him. He is our peace in the midst of the storm! The Lord says in Psalm 50:15 that if we call upon Him in the day of trouble; He shall rescue us, and we will give Him glory. King David knew God’s strategy very well when he stated in Psalm 63:6-7, “as I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy”. God blesses us when He see us watching and waiting diligently on Him (Proverbs 8:34).

We must not let our fire for Him burn out! If you want to find yourself in a deeper relationship with the Lord, seek Him early! This is what the fourth watch of the night is all about.

Leviticus 6:6

Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out.

אֵשׁ, תָּמִיד תּוּקַד עַל-הַמִּזְבֵּחַ–לֹא תִכְבֶּה.

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13 thoughts on “The Fourth Watch of the Night

  1. Wow… I found He was waking me at 3:30am every morning for over a week and was desperately trying to understand why. That article has helped me understand a bit better. Thanks

  2. I needed this. My daddy once told me if you wake up and can’t get back to sleep, the Lord is trying to tell you something. To open your Bible and read it.. He said the Lord will rock you back to sleep and it is the best sleep. My daddy didn’t lie. This helps me to understand more about the 4th Watch. I didn’t know about it until this evening but I will be diligently seeking God in those hours. Thank you.

  3. Thank you Priscila. The Lord has been pressing upon me to know more about the ” fourth watch” and I have gleaned a lot from your blog site. God Bless you!

  4. I have been woke up before during this time to pray for someone. Sometimes it is obvious, as I will be upset (a dream) and just have to pray until I feel a peace. Other times I am not quite sure what it is.

  5. Hey Sis, thanks for your obedience to THE LORD for diligently digging these precious nuggets of truth, may He continue to bless you and your family as you seek to do His will in the earth just as it is in Heaven.

    In JESUS name,
    Bruce

  6. this truly is the purpose of the event. don’t believe in movies and media for they are trying to fool you into thinking into fear.

  7. Wanted you to know your blog has glorified God today. I wake almost regularly at the hand of the Lord in the fourth watch. He never ceases to amaze me with waking and meeting me in this particular space of time sweetly, fragrantly, and with nothing but love. Have a great day!

  8. Absolutely awesome in content and experience. I applaud you for writing this article and sharing your experiences with world. I am about to start a series intitled ” The Fourth Watch ” and in doing some further research I stumbled upon this article! May God Bless You indeed is my prayer!

  9. We forget how very close the Lord is and that he cares about each one of us. He stands at the door and knocks….We just have to let him in. I am grateful for my blessings!

  10. Beloved, you are amongst the ranks of mighty prayer warriors around the world and in the Kingdoms, and in Heaven. Elect by God’s own hand to serve Him in the fourth watch of the night. What a privilege to be called and to serve Him in this mighty way!! Stand strong in the battle with us for we are stronger in numbers. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.(Eph6:12) Pray as never before when He calls you to stand guard. Peace and strength be unto you! In His love!

  11. Thank you for your research. I was just reading Matthew where Jesus walked on the water in the 4th watch of the night. I wondered what time that was. This is frequently the time of night I awaken. I will keep this in ind.

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