Showing posts with label Psalm 131. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Psalm 131. Show all posts

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Psalm 131 ~ Quieting Myself in Yahweh

One thing I notice quite a bit in praying the Psalms is how one psalm sits next to another. In the psalm I worked with yesterday, Psalm 130, the metaphor was of the watchman, diligent, focused and waiting for the morning. Today, in Psalm 131, the metaphor is of a weaned child sitting quietly with its mother, waiting patiently. Both instances speak of an assurance that God knows and cares, that help will certainly come and our needs will be met.

Quieting Myself in Yahweh ~ from Psalm 131

My heart is not lifted up
With pride or self-importance,
As if I have any good thing in me
That did not come from Yahweh.

My eyes are not lifted up in arrogance,
As if I was sufficient of myself
To think anything as of myself.
I have no room for the ego
That eases God out.

I do not concern myself
With things too deep
Or too difficult;
It only gets me agitated,
Frustrated, confused.
And Yahweh does not need my advice.

But I quiet myself, calm myself,
Take my eyes off me
And put them on Yahweh.
I am like a young child,
Sitting with its mother,
Trusting that she knows and cares,
That is how my heart is with Yahweh;
He knows and cares.

So I set my expectation on Yahweh
And wait for Him,
Patient and content.
All is well, now and forever.

Personal Confessions from the Psalms
Personal Confessions from the Psalms
Prayers and Affirmations for a Life of Faith, Happiness and Awe in God
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Calming Yourself

Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself
Like a little weaned child with its mother;
I am like a little child.
(Psalm 131:2 HCSB)
There is much going on around us. Much turbulence to be caught up in. Much that we do not understand. Many things that tempt us to worry. David the Warrior could certainly identify with us. In fact, he often experienced it much more and to a greater degree than we do. But he came to a place in his life where he learned how to deal with it effectively. A place where he could say,
LORD, my heart is not proud;
My eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
Too great or too difficult for me.
(Psalm 131:1 HCSB)
He realized it was not necessary for him to understand everything that was happening in his life. He did not take it upon himself to fix everything. “Instead,” he said, “I have calmed and quieted myself.” He did not try to calm and quiet the world around him — that was not his to do — but he calmed and quieted himself. Like when he and his ragged band of soldiers came back to camp to find their families and all their possessions had been carried off. David’s men were ready to kill him. He might have simply given up in despair, but instead we read, “David encouraged himself in the LORD his God” (1 Samuel 30:6 KJV; see How to Encourage Yourself in the LORD).

Now he speaks of calming and quieting himself, to become “like a little weaned child with its mother.” When a child has weaned away from his mother’s breast, he has begun to learn how to trust and have patience. He is not worried that he will be abandoned; he knows that his mother will see that he is properly fed and clothed and provided for. He is secure in the knowledge that his mother is neither far away nor inattentive.

Of course, David is not actually talking about his mother here. He says “like a little weaned child.” In learning to trust his mother in the weaning process, he was also learning what it means to trust in the Lord. Now he was like a like a little weaned child with God. Whatever issues of life were too deep to ponder, whatever circumstances were too difficult to understand, David did not concern himself with them — he left them for God to deal with, fully confident that everything that was needed would be taken care of.

Jesus calls us all to be like that, like a little weaned child. He said,
Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it. (Mark 10:15)

Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:31-33)
A weaned child does not worry about these things. Likewise, we do not need to anxious either because God has already provided for everything we need. Our part is not to understand everything but to trust God in everything. There are many things in life that are too difficult for us, but they are not too difficult for Him — and He doesn’t even need our advice on how to deal with them.

This is living life in a different, more powerful and effective way. We have a new focus now — God. We seek His kingdom (God’s rule and reign) and His righteousness (God’s way of making things right), and everything else that we need will be added to us. David had many enemies set against him, but he set his focus on God
One thing I have desired of the LORD,
That will I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD
All the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to inquire in His temple.
For in the time of trouble
He shall hide me in His pavilion;
In the secret place of His tabernacle
He shall hide me;
He shall set me high upon a rock.
(Psalm 27:4-5)
When Martha was fussing with numerous tasks and complaining that Mary was not doing what she was supposed to (and doing what she was not supposed to), Jesus answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41). Martha was worried and distracted by many things, but Mary was thoroughly focused on one —the Lord Jesus.

“O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever” David concludes (Psalm 133:3 HCSB). In the Bible, hope is not a tentative, maybe-so, maybe-not affair. It is a solid expectation, a positive anticipation. This is how we calm and quiet ourselves, how we wean ourselves from the worries of the world and things too deep or difficult for us: We set our expectation on Yahweh. We seek His kingdom, His power, His glory — His will being done on earth as it is in heaven. We focus on His righteousness — His ability to set everything right. And everything else will be taken care of.

This is our new SOP, our “standard operating procedure” from now on.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Last Resort is the Only Hope

LORD, my heart is not proud;
my eyes are not haughty.
I do not get involved with things
too great or too difficult for me.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself
like a little weaned child with its mother;
I am like a little child.
(Psalm 131:1-2, HCSB)
David comes before God like a little child. He is not trying to figure out everything — or anything. He has weaned himself away from all that. He is coming simply to be with God, to sit calmly and quietly with Him. He has come to the place in his life where that is more than enough for him.

That is how we each must come before God, like little children. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). It is a position of utter dependence. Just as a little child is helpless apart from his parents, we must realize that we are completely helpless apart from God alone.

The pervading delusion is that we have any viable option beside God. That was the lie the serpent sold Adam and Eve. God had already created them in His own image, and to be like Him (Genesis 1:26-27). But the devil conjured up an “alternative” before their eyes: If they would take the forbidden fruit for themselves, they would be gods in their own right. So they “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).

They thought they had options, but came to realize, to their great sorrow, that what they had chosen led them only to emptiness and despair.

After years of wantonness and waste, and a life of exercising his “options,” St. Augustine came to this profound conclusion, recorded in his Confessions: “God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in You.” He had come now to the last resort and discovered, joyfully, that it was his only hope, and more than enough.

David, king of Israel, calmed and quieted his heart from all other matters apart from God. His heart and his eyes are no longer full of himself; his hand does not reach for things that did no belong to him. He is satisfied in God alone, and from that place of quietness and contentment, he gives this wise counsel to his people:
Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.
(Psalm 131:3)
The joyful discovery in life is that your last resort is the only hope you will ever need. Put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Like a Weaned Child

LORD, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.
(Psalm 131)
Earlier this week we were warring, by faith and prayer, for my mother’s healing. She had had a long, hard fight against leukemia and beat it about four years ago. When we became aware last month that it had returned, we immediately went back into battle mode. Mom again gave it her all, but she was older this time around, and weaker. She was weary.

Recently, as she lay in her hospital bed, she was counting her blessings, remembering all the wonderful people she had known, the experiences she had, the places she had visited, her beloved lake home, her children and grandchildren, and the thirty years she had enjoyed with her late husband. I believe she came to the conclusion that she was satisfied.

One of the Scriptures I’ve often prayed for myself and others is from Psalm 91, “Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him … With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation” (vv. 14, 16). My mother was eighty (we celebrated her birthday just a month ago) and she was satisfied. I account that God fulfilled His promise.

So now we shifted into a different mode, a mode no less founded in faith than was our former mode. We began looking toward a much greater victory, an eternal one. It has always been my way, in praying for and with people suffering from life-threatening disease, to fight beside them when they are ready to fight, but also to let them go if they decide they want to go. Mom decided that she wanted to go, and though it broke our hearts, we — my wife, my brothers and I — began letting her go. Our prayer shifted; we began asking for God to fill her with the sweetness of His presence and lead her gently into the eternal manifestation of His glory.

On Thursday, as my wife and I were traveling to Charlotte to be by her side, I was praying in the psalms, which is my daily habit, and I opened to Psalm 131. It was very appropriate to what I had been thinking and feeling as I faced my mother’s death.

“My heart is not proud, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me.” I could not understand why I was being separated from my mother in this way. Oh, I could talk about it philosophically and theologically and spiritually. But my heart did not fathom it — it was too profound for me. It was a mystery, the depths of which only God truly knows. I determined that my heart would not be arrogant, nor my eyes seek out things which belong to God alone.

“Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” What was left, then, was to quiet my soul — to leave my mother in God’s hands and trust Him with her. That the psalm writer likens himself to a weaned child was very poignant to the cry of my heart. For nine months I had my existence in the warmth and nurture of my mother’s womb. Then, on the day I was born, the weaning process began. I was separated from her body and placed upon her breast. After a number of months, I was weaned from that and began the long journey of learning how to live apart from her. As I matured, I left home for college, got married, and began to have children of my own. Now I was being weaned from knowing even her physical presence any longer in this life. Though it was difficult, I started letting her go, knowing that I was letting her go to God. My trust is in Him, as was hers.

Mom was also weaning herself away, from this life. She was letting it go. She began by remembering all the lovingkindnesses and tender mercies of God, and giving thanks. Realizing that she was satisfied with this life and ready to enter the next, she expressed her desire to have all her sons around her. Thursday night, my brothers and I were gathered with her in her hospital room. After a while she asked for us all to pray together with her. We joined hands and offered our praise and thanks to God for giving us this wonderful woman. Then she concluded with a prayer of her own, giving thanks to God for her life and all her blessings, and for us. She was letting go — weaning away — and so were we.

The psalm writer, having become like a weaned child by trusting God with everything, ends with a note of joyful expectation: “Hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.” Whatever mystery may be deep for us is not too great for the eternity of God.

Early Sunday morning, Mom passed over into the arms of Jesus. Tomorrow we shall lay her body in the earth, where it shall await resurrection. Our expectation is in God, now and forever, and we shall see my mother again.

All is well.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Set Your Expectation on God

Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.
(Psalm 131)
Sometimes we don’t know why certain things happen, and we can drive ourselves nuts trying to figure it out. But sometimes we don’t know because we don’t really need to know. And sometimes, even if God told us why, we still wouldn’t understand.

This is the revelation David had. He realized that there were things that were beyond him, and so he learned to be content trusting them to God alone. Had he pursued them, he would have ended up in pride and arrogance, or else been overwhelmed by their depth.

So he calmed and quieted his soul. He became like a weaned child in his relationship with God. A little baby cries and wails until he is comforted and his perceived need is met. A weaned child knows that he will be taken care of at the appropriate time. He is patient.

Some Christians pray like a crying infant, weeping and wailing continually until they get what they want, and wondering why it is taking so long. But as they mature (if they mature), they learn that they can bring the matter before the Lord, and then leave it there with Him, knowing that He cares and that He will bring about their solution at the proper time.

In other words, they have learned how to set their hope in Him. The Biblical words for “hope” they speak of solid and positive expectation. It is joyful anticipation. Hope does not need to know all the answers. It does not need to establish a timetable. It is enough to know that He is God and He is good.

Hope trusts in God. Faith is the substance, the underlying reality of the things we hope for. It is the evidence of the things we do not yet see, but fully expect to manifest (Hebrews 11:1).

Set your expectation on God from now on; He will take care of you in every way.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Weaned, Quieted Heart

LORD, my heart is not haughty,
  Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
  Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
  Like a weaned child with his mother;
  Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD
  From this time forth and forever.
(Psalm 131)
This is called “growing up” in the LORD. Paul said, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God” (Romans 8:14). He is not talking about “children” in the Lord, but about “sons,” that is, those who have come to a place of maturity in their relationship with God.

It has nothing to do with chronology. There are many who are old in years but still children in the Lord — they just never grew up. On the other hand, there are those who are very young in years but who know how to be led by the Spirit of God — they are the mature sons Paul is talking about. (It is not about male and female either. If men can be the “bride” of Christ, women can be the “sons” of God.) In Psalm 131, David shows what that maturity looks like:
My heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty.
There is no pride or arrogance, no unjust assumptions about what we see with the eyes (for our eyes can easily deceive us).
Nor do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me.
We don’t have to figure everything out with our reasoning. The Bible says, “Trust in the LORD with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

There are things too profound for our own understanding. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:11), but God sent His Word and His Spirit so that we could operate according to His ways and thoughts. Paul said,

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

That’s why it is important for our maturity to be led by the Holy Spirit, for He searches and reveals the things that are too profound for us.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
This maturity is about relationship, not about reasoning. The weaned child is calm and quiet with his mother, not because he has figured everything out, but because he has learned to trust his mother, that she loves him and will take care of him.

Notice that this is a decision we must make. God cannot calm and quiet our soul if we are not willing. We must choose to trust Him, then the peace of God comes and we know that all shall be well. One way to begin is simply by saying, whatever the circumstance, “God, I choose to trust You.” Say it often, at every turn in the road. Instruct your soul with this and let it become big inside you.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
From this time forth and forever.
This is David’s conclusion, his kingly counsel to the people of God. To “hope” means to trust, with a positive expectation, a joyful anticipation.

When we have our expectation in God, there is no haughtiness or arrogance, because now we know that it is all about Him and not about us. This is our “standard operating procedure” from now on.

Set your trust, your hope, your expectation upon God in all things — now and forever. Let the Spirit of God search the deep things of God and reveal them to you (simply ask Him, and the Word of God will “come alive” for you). Learn to hear His voice and be led by Him. Then you will move forward in your life in calmness, quietness and confidence.