Let’s face it – 2020 has been a strange year.
But God was not surprised by all the events that have happened.
Would you join me in a four-week countdown to Thanksgiving?
When we stop for a moment, we realize we have much to be thankful for.
1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;(Psalm 131:1-3, English Standard Version)
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, said of this psalm:
“It is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.”
[C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, 3 vols. (reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, n.d.), 3/2:136.]
In this psalm, David focuses on contentment and security and abiding in relationship with the Lord. As we look at verse 1, we see David humbly coming before the Lord, having already confessed his sin, repented, and found forgiveness in Psalm 130.
So what did David repent of? Verse 1 gives us his list:
- Self-righteous judgment of others
- Unbridled ambition
- Managing others for the sole purpose of self-promotion and achievement
So what propels us forward? Is our purpose to honor God and His calling, or to selfishly seek our own fame and fortune and power?
Why do we do what we do? What is our inner motivation?
Please note that David’s comments do not give us the freedom to do nothing and depend on others. David accomplished great things for God, and faced larger-than-life problems along the way.
Also, David’s psalm to no permit us to run away from our problems physically or mentally or emotionally, through self-medicating addictions like drugs, alcohol, work, food, pornography, or co-dependent human relationships.
In verse 2, David compares his contentment to that of a weaned child leaning against its mother. Note that this contentment is learned and not instantaneous. David says that he had calmed and quieted himself – he was no longer anxious and restless and demanding.
When a child is still on a milk diet, nursing from its mother, the child runs on instinct and self-seeking fulfillment. When babies are hungry, they get fussy and cry and have a fit until their needs are met. And newborns quickly learn their source of nourishment if they are being nursed by their mothers. If the child is hungry, it begins rooting around and clamoring for nourishment from its mother’s breast.
When the weaning process takes place, the child’s world is turned upside down. The child’s source of nourishment changes from its mother’s breast to its mother’s hand. The child cries, lifts up outstretched arms to its mother, and feels betrayed and denied. And yet the mother knows that this is in the best interests of the child.
As we noted above, contentment is learned and not instantaneous. We should also note that contentment is also learned and formed in a relationship. The child has moved from nutritional dependence on its mother to relationship with its mother. The child is at peace with simply sitting and resting beside its mother, content in knowing that its mother’s love and provision is sufficient to meet all its needs.
And how David’s description of a child with its mother so aptly pictures our relationship with the Lord as we grow and mature in our walk with Christ. Our relationship with the Lord changes as we mature in Christ. We no longer demand that God meet our needs, what we want from God. We are now simply content to be with God, fully trusting that He knows our needs and loves us and will provide for us.
David concludes the psalm by instructing Israel to likewise put their trust and hope (dependence) on the Lord, both currently and forevermore (the unforeseeable future). David knew the history of the Jewish people, how they had been dependent on Moses rather than God; David knew that he wanted to point the Israelites to the Lord as their great King who would be their provider and protector long after he was gone.
Here is another paraphrase that may help you quiet your soul:
1 Lord, my heart is not proud;(Psalm 131:1-3, New Living Translation)
my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
or too awesome for me to grasp.
2 Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—
now and always.
Lord, thank You for knowing my heart and my needs even better than I do.
Lord, I confess before You the times I am fussy and selfish, acting like a little child. Lord, You call me to be a grown-up, to rest in Your presence, trusting You for provision and protection. Your presence is what I desire.
Lord, help me to be the “right size”, not arrogant or self-righteous or prideful, but humbly walking and seated with You.
Lord, thank You that I can find contentment and purpose in You alone. Lord, as I am secure in Your presence, I want to be used by You, for Your glory and the good of others.
Lord, thank You that my hope is in You, both now and forever.
May this old hymn be your mindset and quiet moment today:
Be Still My Soul, sung by the group Selah
Learning contentment and a quiet heart and soul,