Friday, May 10, 2013

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul - Psalm 131

old fashon rose

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul
A Song of Ascents. Of David.

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.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.

                                       –– Psalm 131


Psalm 131 is one of the shortest psalms (chapters) in the Bible.  It is only three verses in length.  Psalm 117 is four verses, but has fewer words, thus making it the shortest psalm.  Psalm 131 is a Davidic psalm.  This indicates that it was written by King David. It is also a Song of Ascents.  Psalms 120 to 134 are all titled as songs of ascent.  The precise meaning of a song of ascent is not known. It most likely refers to a song that worshipers would sing as they ascended the road to Jerusalem to celebrate annual religious festivals.  Perhaps it was a song that one sang as they climbed the steps to the temple.  It could also be a musical designation that indicated that the tune would rise in pitch as it was sang.

Charles H. Spurgeon says of this psalm: Comparing all the Psalms to gems, we should liken this to a pearl: how beautifully it will adorn the neck of patience. It is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn. It speaks of a young child, but it contains the experience of a man in Christ.  In this short psalm, David expresse his humble dependence on the Lord.  David urges the nation of Israel to do the same.

In this inspired psalm, David has accomplished something very difficult.  He has declared that he is humble without bragging.  It is difficult to announce true humility.  To claim humility as your virtue is generally to forfeit that virtue. Charles Swindoll states: Humility is the fairest and rarest flower that blooms.  Put it on display and instantly it wilts and loses its fragrance! Humility is one character trait that should be a "closet utterance." ...  Charles Swindoll continues by suggesting that this was a private prayer of David.  It is like a note in David's diary.  It was a private meditation, a confession, that King David did not expect the entire world to see.  This psalm was David's song exclusively to the Lord.  Count them –– In the first two verses David uses I, my, myself, and me eight times. David is having a personal conversation with God.

Group prayers have their place.  Our teachers, pastors, leaders are to lead us in prayer. They unite the group in a common prayer. These prayers, however, could easily be used for boasting.  The person praying could use the prayer to imprese his listeners with his prowess in using beautiful words. Private prayers, however, are extremely important. Jesus spent a great deal of time in prayer. Often we see Jesus going away to pray in solitude. There are very few times we see Jesus praying a group prayer. Prayers are to be personal times with God. Jesus tells us: And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  Matthew 6:5-6 

In this short psalm, David humbles himself before God. David submits himself to God and is dependent upon God. David's heart is not lifted up. The word used here for heart is  לֵב leb. It is used figuratively for the feelings, the will and even the intellect.  The word for lifted is גָבַה gabah.  The word means to soar, to be lofty.  It is used in this verse to figuratively to mean haughty, arrogant or proud. My eyes are not raised too high. This phrase shows us that pride can be seen in one's eyes.  Prideful people have that look.  Their eyes are lifted up, they are superior to the rest of us common folks. David is telling God that he is not wanting to be proud.  I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. David does not want to involve himself in great matters or difficult things. He no longer wants a place of prominence   He does not want to be in the spotlight, nor does he want public acclaim. 

But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.  Psalm 131:2  David has found contentment in his life.  David has matured.  He is no longer a baby fussing and crying for milk.  David has been weaned.  He is confident and at peace in his mother's arms.  David has matured.  He has learned to trust the Lord.  David is content in the arms of the Lord!

O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 113:3  Having found contentment in the Lord, David urges Israel to do the same.  The knowledge that David learned, his contentment, was so wonderful that he wanted to share it with the entire nation.

Weaning is not done by the child.  Weaning is done to the child. As Christians we are weaned by God. We are to loose our pride. We are to become less haughty.  We are to humble ourselves before God.  We are to be His humble servants.  We are to lean hard on God, and solely on God. We are to be content in His arms in all situations.


A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility. You soon detect mock humility. They have a saying among the Arabs that as the tares and the wheat grow they show which God has blessed. The ears that God has blessed bow their heads and acknowledge every grain, and the more fruitful they are the lower their heads are bowed. The tares lift up their heads erect, high above the wheat, but they are only fruitful of evil. 

If we only get down low enough, God will use us to His glory.
D. L. Moody.

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