Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

Like A Satisfied Child - Psalm 131


"It is hard to imagine anyone spending three years with Jesus Christ and still wanting to be important himself, instead of just letting Jesus be important. But the disciples did, and we do too, even after years of exposure to Jesus' teaching. Matthew tells us something along these lines that happened soon after Jesus' transfiguration. They asked Him, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' (Matthew 18:1). I do not know what kind of answer they expected, but I know that the answer they got was not what they expected" (Psalms 107-150, James Montgomery Boice, p. 1144).

"And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, 'Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven'" (Matthew 18:2-3).

"It was a serious answer. In order to be saved from sin and enter God's kingdom, they had to become like little children, and in order to become like children they had to change, humbling themselves instead of jockeying for 'top dog' position" (Boice p. 1145). The person who wrote Psalm 131 had not only learned this lesson of humility before God, but was actually practicing it.

Easy Psalm, Hard Lesson

"O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty" (131:1)

  • "It is a short psalm, only nine lines in three verses, one of the easiest of all psalms to read, but its lesson is one of the hardest to learn" (Boice p. 1145).

  • "Richard J. Foster writes in his classic Celebration of Discipline, 'Superficiality is the curse of our age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people" (Psalms 73-150, Donald Williams, p. 443).

The Bible makes it clear that humility is an essential lesson to learn and learning to subdue pride or arrogance is one of the most important lessons of life, seeing that pride is such an offensive character trait to God:

  • "For the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly; but the haughty He knows from afar" (Psalm 138:6). He incorporates the humble into His kingdom, yet He is distant in regards to the arrogant. His real greatness and their pretended greatness are in two different worlds, in effect, He has nothing in common with them.

  • "He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble" (Proverbs 3:34). This verse is also quoted in James 4:6.

  • "And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).

"My heart is not proud" - Why?

According to the title, this psalm was written by David who had been a very successful man. He could have boasted of being inspired, the King of Israel, a valiant warrior, the man who had saved Israel by killing Goliath and so on. In fact, he probably had more to boast of than any man who actually is arrogant.

2 Samuel 6:16-23

"When the ark of God was brought to Jerusalem David was so joyful that he danced in the procession dressed only in a common priestly ephod, rather than proceeding in a stately manner clad in his royal robes. His wife Michael despised him for it and called him 'a vulgar fellow'. But David replied, 'I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes'" (Boice p. 1145). She seemed to be more impressed with regal splendor and pomp than humble service. Evidently, she wanted David to act like a king like all the other nations. "Perhaps her actions and attitude in this situation were more characteristic of her father than of her husband. Her displeasure, however, was more likely tied in with her insensitivity to the religious significance of this occasion. This brought a quick and decisive response from David in which he pointed out that he had no intention of changing his behavior purely on her behalf…As a result of this estrangement, Michal had no children until the day of her death (20:3; 1 Chronicles 15:29)" (Davis pp. 134-135). David rejects Michal's slanderous accusations, that argues that "it was before the Lord", and not the young women. His motives were completely pure. He also pointed out, "People of true faith, such as 'these slave girls' who attended the celebration, would interpret David's actions for what they were---expressions of unrestrained, authentic faith; thus the king would be held in honor by people of faith…David was willing to risk being misunderstood and humiliated as he pursued a deeper relationship with God" (Bergen p. 334). It is clear that David knew he had done great things such as killing Goliath, yet he was willing to humble himself and did so because he knew that even at his best he was merely an unprofitable servant of the only true God.

"Nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me"

We must not interpret this as an excuse to avoid the challenges of life, for David did not avoid difficult tests of his character. "Overcoming ambition does not mean that David did not want to achieve anything or that we should be passive, doing nothing. David is rejecting an ambition that goes beyond what God has for him at any time. He allowed God to give him the kingdom of Israel in God's own time and way, even though the crown had been promised to him years before. He was content to be pursued by Saul for ten years and then to rule over the tiny principality of Hebron for seven more years before eventually becoming ruler of the United Kingdom" (Boice p. 1148).

  • It must be remembered that David searched the Scriptures and profited from them (Psalm 19), yet he never placed understanding the Scriptures or serving God acceptably in the category of things "too difficult".

  • David did not waste his time on idle human speculation.

  • In addition, David realizes that he does not have to understand everything in order to be happy serving God, neither did he demand that God inform him about everything He was doing or would do in David's life. He was happy to have the Scriptures and would demand no more information (Deuteronomy 29:29).

  • The Bible certainly teaches the importance of reaching goals (Philippians 3:14), "but if we take the energies that make for aspiration and remove God from the picture, replacing Him with our own crudely sketched self-portrait, we end up with arrogance" (Boice p. 1148).

  • Eugene Peterson noted that too many people are working furiously to create a Babel when they could be vacationing in Eden.

"Surely I have composed and quieted my soul" (131:2)

David reveals here how we can start living deeper and more meaningful lives. It is not something that happens by accident; rather it is a choice we make. "We are not merely instinctual animals. We are conscious of ourselves. This allows us to calm and quiet ourselves before God, and this is exactly what David does" (Williams p. 444). Even though David was probably surrounded by noise, hurry, crowds and responsibilities he still had learned to calm his soul. He found himself distracted by God rather than by the white-noised that surrounded him.

"Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me" (131:2)

  • "Here is contentment. David is not like a baby crying and harassing his mother for her milk. He is like an older child who knows rest and security in the presence of his mother. Thus his soul is at rest" (Williams p. 444).

  • "Weaning is usually accomplished by resistance and struggle on the child's part, even by hot tears - and it is difficult for the mother. But weaning is necessary if the child is to mature. David is saying that he has come through the weaning process and has learned to trust God to care for him and provide for him, not on David's own terms but on God's terms. Before he was weaned, David wanted God only for what he could get from God. After he was weaned, having learned that God loved him and would care for him even if it was not exactly the way he anticipated or most wanted" (Boice p. 1150).

  • Have we learned to love God and appreciate God for Himself and not merely for His blessings? Are we willing to love and serve Him even though we might not get anything at the moment?

  • The child who is not weaned demands instant blessings, instant rewards and answers right now. They fret and are self-seeking. The weaned child does not demand anything. Which child are we at the present?

"O Israel, hope in the Lord, from this time forth and forever" (131:3)

This hope is not merely for a moment or some get-away weekend, but this is a relationship that will last forever. Here is the goal, to be weaned from all insubstantial ambitions and to realize that fulfillment is only found in "doing the will of Him... to accomplish His work" (John 4:34).