Theme: A calm and quiet soul is possible for the disciple. It comes by humbly embracing only what God has for you, growing in contentment, and encouraging other to do likewise.
Through Humility (131:1)
1 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.
One of the first questions we might have about the song is the nature of it.
- Is this Pharisaical boasting?
- Like this — Luke 18:11–12 (ESV)—11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’
- Does making the claim cancel out the claim?
1 — It may have been a necessary defense during the life of David.
2 — It may have been necessary instruction or lesson from the pen of David.
1 Too high / Too great / Too marvelous for me:
This is not a perspective one hears everyday.
Our western civilization — the United States especially — has inherited a temptation toward ungodly ambition. There is nothing we cannot do, nothing we cannot have an opinion about.
Our information overloaded age — which could have brought humility — often fosters a feeling of all-knowingness. We tell our doctors and professors and pastors what they ought to think. So, on one hand, the disciple is to humble out and take a lower view of himself.
Romans 12:16 (ESV)—16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
The disciple confesses there are things too high, too great, and too marvelous for him/her.
- Gifts and abilities.
- Problems in world and culture.
- Relational complexities.
- Theological quandaries.
Uzziah’s example — 2 Chronicles 26:16 (ESV)—16 But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense.
James 4:6 (ESV)—6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Ambition vs. Aspiration
Hard to delineate ambition from aspiration, “an impatience with mediocrity and a dissatisfaction with all things created until we are at home with the Creator, the hopeful striving for the best God has for us.” (Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience In The Same Direction)
Paul spoke of our “area of influence” (2 Corinthians 10:13-18).
Some belittle themselves and are unusable by God. Others exalt themselves and become, also, unusable.
And Growing Contentment (131:2b)
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.
To be weaned is to no longer feed off your mother’s milk, and, because they generally waited longer than we do (age 3-5), it was an especially significant time in that culture.
You can imagine the struggle as the child is denied his desire. But eventually the child no longer craves what he used to and is content.
This accurately depicts growth in the Christian life. Stuff we thought we had to have — that we pitched little fits for and about — grow less desirable as the years of walking with Christ pass by.
It is not every child of God who arrives at this weanedness speedily. Some are sucklings when they ought to be fathers; others are hard to wean, and cry, and fight, and rage against their heavenly parent’s discipline. — Spurgeon
The secret of contentment — Philippians 4:11 (ESV)—11 …I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. / Philippians 4:12 (ESV)—12…I have learned the secret… / Philippians 4:13 (ESV)—13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Contentment is not:
- The overwhelmed feeling that comes from too much of a good thing (all is vanity, Ecclesiastes 1:2).
- Denying unhappy feelings, but freedom to be uncontrolled by those feelings, and to work through those feelings with Christ (Paul, longing).
- Pretending things are right when they are not, but peace from God in it all (Paul, jailed).
- Complacency that defeats any attempt to improve life (Paul, gospel).
- Comfortable living, but joy beyond circumstances (Paul, cell).
- The American Dream (Paul, entire life).
How does God wean us?
- With a struggle.
- From sin (world, flesh).
- By making it bitter.
- By removing it.
- By giving us better food.
- Like a mother..
While Encouraging Others To Do Likewise (131:3)
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.
The whole assembly. Every child. Every woman. And every man. We all are to allow God’s steady maturing of our desires.
There is nothing one can do about yesterday and its desires, but we do have something to say about today and tomorrow and forever.
What infantile desires might God attempt to wean you from?