Psalms of Ascent: 131

1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
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.

Psalm 131 is short but powerful. These three verses speak prophetically into our loud and pride
filled American culture. King David wrote this song to teach us what true humility and peace look like.

David was a wonderful king. Israel prospered under him. He was mighty in battle and defeated many warring nations. He was chosen by God himself and anointed by the prophet Samuel. He was talented, intelligent, strong, brave, wealthy, handsome, everything that all of us have ever wanted to be. He was a man after God’s own heart. If anyone had reason to be proud, it was him. But even he, when comparing himself to God, realized how lowly he was. Through his own failings, he understood that even the best of man are fickle, sinful, and reliant on God for everything.

Keeping his heart and eyes (his affections and attention) on God made him think more of God and less of himself. It’s not that David had no godly aspirations to affect meaningful change. David did a great many things for the Kingdom of God. But he did it all in the power and prompting of God and not out of his own strength or from his own selfish ambition. He was entirely dependent on God, like a weaning child is dependent on a mother.

The sin of pride is rampant among God’s people in this time and place. Psalm 131 is a much needed reminder that we don’t have all the answers. Let’s stop acting like we do. God is infinite and mysterious. The world we live in is complicated. The more often we take our affection and attention off of ourselves and raise them to God, the more humble and at peace we will be. How do we do that? This psalm gives us one practical way: being quiet.

Being calm and quiet is in contrast to pride. When we’re frantic and busy, it’s often a sign that we’re not trusting God to take care of us and satisfy us. In our pride, we think we have to be our own comforters and rescuers. So we add anything to our schedule or to our pile of stuff that we think will help. When we fill our life with the noise of activity, entertainment, constant politics, and other distractions, it’s often because we want to drown out the sound of our own fears, insecurities, or sorrows. Taking time to be silent, to acknowledge the reality of our lives, situations, and emotions invites us to bring these to God, who will provide us with true comfort, satisfying rest, and eternal hope.