GETTING THE MESSAGE/The humble way
Psalm 131 depicts the repose of a soul humble and content before the living God. It quite naturally follows the wonder of forgiveness of sins we see in Psalm 130. Forgiveness of sin and the tranquility of the soul go together.
The writer of the psalm is David, a man known for extremes. In other psalms he is in terrible distress after committing presumptuous sins that brought God’s anger upon David. But here we see David in a state of contentment, an enviable condition that the apostle Paul says (in Phil 4) every Christian should seek. How did David attain contentment?
First, he lists three things he does not do (verse 1). They are all connected to the enemy of repose in the soul in walking with God: pride. We should understand at this point that the fact David lists these things indicates he has struggled mightily with them in the past. But he has reached a point where he can say, “I am not succumbing to a heart lifted up with pride.”
Pride in man is the essence of sin. It is enmity with God because it would usurp God’s glory and honor. The direst warnings in Scripture are connected to the pride of man. Pride is the imitation of the devil, God’s great enemy. “Everyone who is proud is detestable to the Lord” (Proverbs 16:5).
Jesus describes coming to Him like entering a narrow gate because it is something easily missed by people who are proud. Only the needy sinner will seek Him out. The way of salvation is the way of the cross, an emblem of suffering and shame for the Son of God. Sinners made debts and He paid them. If you want contentment in the Christian life, find solace in a dying Savior for you.
Pride never aids the Christian life. It is opposed to the purposes of God in the gospel where grace is offered to the humble and penitent. Pride is also a contradiction to the Lord Christ, who though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God something to be grasped but emptied Himself by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Phil 2). David found a heart lifted in pride to be a detriment in his walk with God. It is the same for every soul.
David also says, “My eyes are not raised too high.” There is a close connection between the heart and the eyes. We see this in the story Jesus told of the tax collector and Pharisee. Both go up to pray to God. The tax collector, under conviction of sin, will not lift up his eyes. The Pharisee, convinced of his own righteousness, oozes self-confidence. He sees things completely different.
What a difference the eyes make! The Lord Jesus said they were the lamp of the body. Through the eye comes light or darkness. Jesus is the light of the world. All men necessarily walk in darkness apart from him. How we see ourselves, others, and the world depends upon how we see Christ.
David lists the third thing he didn’t do: “I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” David doesn’t sit in judgment of God or God’s ways. There are things he doesn’t understand. God makes it this way that he might humble His people. Let others cavil at the Lord; His people trust in Him and have great reasons to trust in Him. Your contentment is going to be connected to your trust in God.
There are truths and doctrines in Scripture men don’t understand, so they reject them. That is not the way to godly contentment. There are circumstances in the world or in our own lives that make you wonder what God is doing. Remember, the full picture hasn’t been drawn yet. In such perplexities, Christians are directed to the cross. Every good and perfect gift comes from God.
In verse 2 David compares his soul to the quietness of a weaned child. A mother knows the difficulty of weaning a child. There are plenty of fits and screaming on the way to a content child. But after he is weaned, the child knows everything is alright. It opens him up to the riches of all other foods.
To be like a weaned child before the Lord is a comforting picture. It’s the opposite of restlessness and anxiety. When the disciples argued about who would be the greatest among them, Jesus set a child in their midst. That picture needs little explanation. The Christian way is the humble way, putting your hope in the Lord “from this time forth and forevermore” (verse 3)