O LORD, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvellous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like a weaned child that is with me,
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.
English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon observed that Psalm 131 is one of the shortest to read, one of the longest to learn. It is a mere 33 words in its original Hebrew, but enormous in meaning. Its composition must have taken David years while holed up in desert caves, lofty mountain hideouts and atop King Saul’s enemy list. It’s a soliloquy of quiet faith.
David had 20 children, and paints a picture in this psalm he must have known very well: weaning a child. A baby is born into a world in which he is the center. He looks to mom for breakfast, lunch, dinner and midnight snacks. He knows that mom is there whenever he wants her, whenever he calls. The little ‘boss’ takes naturally to being the center of all the known universe. “Feed me! Hold me! Comfort me! Give me whatever I want!”
But then comes the epic battle when the child needs to be weaned and learn to take a bottle. This is not a happy time for the child, mother or household. The child cries, screams, and turns red wondering what has happened to mom. “Where is mom? Doesn’t mom know? Doesn’t mom care?”
Then comes the day when the tears stop! The demanding stops! The child is happy to just sit on mom’s lap, no longer expecting to be fed by her. David knows and has seen that unless a mother weans the child, the youngster will never grow up.
So in this little psalm David sees his soul as “calmed and quieted” within him, “like a weaned child with its mother.” It is enough for David to simply be with God. There is no more demanding of answers or explanations; David does not obsess on matters “too great and too marvellous”. Instead David puts His hope in God, and encourages all others to put their hope in Him: “O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time on and forevermore.”
Near our home is a beautiful prayer garden, Canaan in the Desert, lovingly tended by the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. In the garden there is a bas-relief of Jesus in Gethsemane praying: “Father, I do not understand you, but I trust you.”
David has learned to pray a somewhat similar prayer as he lets go demands for explanation of things he does not understand. He quiets his soul within him by not occupying himself with matters above him. David puts his hope in the Lord, confident that God knows things he does not know. That is enough for David, and for me.
Today, I put my hope in the Lord!
A fellow traveler,