My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with matters or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother;
Like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. – Psalm 131
This is a psalm that’s short on text and long on implications – at least for me.
What David is talking about here is the kind of serenity that is perhaps even more elusive now than in his day, but has always seemed hard for mere mortals to come by in any sustained way.
Many of us feel the need for calm and quiet in an increasingly agitated, hurried and worried world. Unless we’re living in isolation from people and all forms of media, the air often seems filled with the noise of multiple voices shouting, crying, threatening, pleading – all this in addition to our own thoughts jostling for attention. Who hasn’t felt the need to close out and close down the clamour, so we can open ourselves to the only voice that really matters?
David begins with a prerequisite in the search for serenity: the realization of who he is and who he is not. He, like each of us, is a child of God. Every ability, every good quality he has, he has as a gift from God. If he has used his gifts well, he’s only done what he should. He has no cause for pride; he has and is nothing apart from God.
More than that, David knows he is not self-sufficient. He has the gifts he was born with, but that is not enough. He needs and will always need God’s guidance. In God’s house, there are mature children, but they’re still children. As soon as I think I can handle my life on my own, I’m in over my head.
David recognizes where he ends and God begins. He doesn’t try to figure everything out for himself and solve all the world’s problems. He doesn’t try to do what only God can do, or understand what only God can fathom.
David knows that his first responsibility is to calm and quiet himself so that he can hear God speak. When he frets, it will lead only to evil (Psalm 37:8). Instead, he focuses on who God is and why he trusts in Him completely. That leads to great calm and a quiet heart. The serenity it evokes is the same as he felt when he was a toddler sitting on his mother’s lap – a young and beloved child, conscious of and all-encompassing sacrificial love, full of nurture, comfort and protection.
Like a weaned child, David’s faith no longer comes just from a parent. Now he can feed himself spiritually and the faith he has is his own. He still has the example and support of his mother, but is not completely dependent on her for his spiritual nourishment. He looks to God as his ultimate provider and because of that, he can rest satisfied and content.
Like most who discover a faith that is life-changing, David wants everyone to share in his experience and reap the benefits. Communion with God is vital not just in times of trouble, but at all times – now and forevermore, David insists. He has learned to seek and expect God’s intimate interaction and guidance as he toddles through each part of his life. Whatever churns around him, David has found the secret of serenity: keep God at the centre and trust completely in Him.
Today and every day, may we too learn to crawl up into the lap of our Father, and rest there as He gives us everything we need before setting us down on our feet again, ready to follow His will.