Psalm 131

Psalm 131
A song of ascents. Of David.

(1) My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
(2) But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.

(3) Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.

The International Children’s Bible translates Psalm 131:3, But I am calm and quiet. I am like a baby with its mother. I am at peace.

Father today, as we study this psalm may we find this calm, quietness within our souls, like a child resting safe in her mother’s arms. Because only in the safety of your loving arms can we find true and lasting peace. Draw us near into your embrace. Amen.

This psalm is David’s profession of humility, humbly made, with thankfulness to God for his grace, and not in vain glory.

Matthew Henry, English minister, 1662-1714

Psalm 131 is the twelfth of fifteen psalms referred to as the Song of Ascents (Song of Degrees, Song of Steps, Pilgrim Psalms, or Gradual Psalms). These songs were sung by Jewish pilgrims as they made the journey to Jerusalem for the three annual festivals as required by God in the Old Testament.

Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed: each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has blessed you.
Deuteronomy 16:16-17

Psalm 131 is of David or for David. Either way, David is believed to be the author. Some see a timeframe within this short little song, maybe that it was written sometime during David’s flight from the hand of king Saul (1 Samuel 18-30). Another commentator suggested that maybe David wrote it after being chastised by his wife for dancing in front of the ark un-kingly-like as it made its way into the city (2 Samuel 6:20-22). Neither are certain.

Titled, I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul (ESV); Simple Trust in the LORD (NKJV); A Childlike Trust in the LORD (NASB); and A Childlike Spirit (HCSB); among others.

It is one of the shortest psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

Here is Psalm 131 from the Message, a paraphrased version of the Bible by Eugene Peterson,

Psalm 131
GOD, I'm not trying to rule the roost, I don't want to be king of the mountain. I haven't meddled where I have no business or fantasized grandiose plans.

I've kept my feet on the ground, I've cultivated a quiet heart. Like a baby content in its mother's arms, my soul is a baby content.

Wait, Israel, for GOD. Wait with hope. Hope now; hope always!

What a beautiful psalm. But what a difficult one to live out.

“Lord, I’m trying not to be prideful and arrogant!” Wow, that goes against human nature though, doesn’t it? Everything about us is self-seeking, opinionated, and self-righteous. We are out to make our lives better, to better ourselves, to tell the world about us– our needs, our wants, ours dreams, our goals. Whether a person has a high esteem of themselves or a low, it is still self-absorption.

And our culture celebrates this.

We think about ourselves way too much. And the belief that there might be a better way to live, goes against everything in our culture and everything within human nature.

Except, that within every person lies a desire and a need to know his or her Creator. Some call it a “Jesus sized hole in the heart.” We want to fill this need or hole within us with ourselves, with stuff, possessions, people, etc. When our souls actually cry out in need of God.

That is how He created us.

But when our culture and our nature drives us in a different direction, how do we fight it? How do we put aside ourselves, recognize the need in our hearts, and surrender ourselves over to the only One who can save?

The only place that we can find true and lasting peace?

We look to Jesus. He was different. But he made ripples. He made people mad, but He also drew people to Him. Why? Because He was different. There was just something about Him that drew people in.

My servant grew up in the LORD's presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
Isaiah 53:2 NLT

He was “different.” But there was just something about Him. And He is our example.

Jesus is the Son of God. Our Redeemer. He was there at the beginning of time; He saw creation. He saw the creation of man, and He saw the fall of man. Likewise, He will be in there in the end. The Bible says so. He is God. And yet, when He walked this earth, He was also a man.

What a beautiful plan God had set apart from the very beginning. He is not a God who doesn’t understand. He is not a God just floating up in the sky with no knowledge of life here on earth. He came here. He lived here. He intimately knows the needs of His children.

And He is our example. He lived differently. Therefore, we have no excuse but to try to do the same.

"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
John 13:13-17

Selfless. A servant.

David didn’t know Jesus, but he knew this expectation of God. That he was to cast aside all human nature, all self-seeking behaviors and seek the Lord. But when Jesus came to earth, He showed us how to live. To love and serve others. Thus, bringing glory to God.

Because when we are “different,” people will ask why. And we will tell them the Good News.

And “Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.” (John 13:17 NLT) These words in the book of John are red, and therefore, recorded as the actual words of Jesus.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the church in Philippi, writes about Jesus,

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11

Sometimes in this world, a life like Jesus might feel impossible. But we have the answer here in this psalm. How do we live this way? How do we honor God and bring Him glory when everything in our very being is selfish? And everything around us screams love of self?

Become like a child. Like a baby in his mother’s arms.

Complete dependence upon God. Rest in His arms. Trust in His love. Depend upon His faithfulness. And know, my friends, that He is good.

Father in heaven, thank you for this psalm. Thank you for your word and for the example of Jesus. Help us live lives set apart from this world, lives pleasing in your eyes. Help us to rest in your arms, to seek you for all that we need, and to depend upon you for strength and love and peace. We love you. Amen.

Heidi xoxo

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