Songs of Ascent 12. - The Calmed & Quieted Soul ~ Psalm 131
Song of Ascents 12. – The Calmed & Quieted Soul ~ Psalm 131
Text: Psalm 131.1-3
Introduction: (Read 1 Samuel 24.1-6) Mr. Spurgeon said of this Psalm, “It is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.” At first glance, the opening statement may be somewhat shocking to us. How can this man say that he is humble and not proud? In this Psalm we find the illustration of a child as experienced in the life of a mature man in Christ. The Psalm is written by David and of David. He is both author and subject. This Psalm exhibits many aspects of his life, such as what we find in 1 Samuel 24. “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed…” Paul said in Philippians, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.”
I. The Heart Before God
A. Do you think that it was appropriate for David to say such a thing as “My heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty”? If he had said this to any man, it would have been clearly revealed the falsehood of the statement. Nevertheless, he speaks only to God and therefore it is proper and right what he says. How can we say that? Because no man can come to God with even the slightest pretense of hypocrisy before God, it is proper statement before God. He is omniscient and we are translucent in His sight. We cannot hide anything. Our souls are an open book. So, if we venture before God on an appeal such as this, we better be sure.
B. Notice how David states this, “Lord, my heart is not haughty.” What a mighty ascent this psalm is above all before it! It is this for two reasons: first, it is a great leap for a man to know his own heart so as to speak to God about it. What was once deceitful in all things and desperately wicked, deceiving all is now full exposed in the sight of God with David standing there discussing its condition. Certainly, this has not come from within. David has not suddenly looked to his inner self and found himself. The Spirit of God has sliced this thing open and exposed deep and searching aspects of our hearts to us. The second is that there is great liberty to live with such a revelation and knowledge of our limitations and boundaries. There is no greater labor, no more fearful insecurity than a proud heart, for within its depths there lies no contentment only grief and restlessness.
II. Humble Eyes
A. The eyes are best described as “windows to our souls”, for they reveal the truth of what is in the heart. The eyes look for what the heart desires. What we desire in our heart, what we covet to possess, what we aim to reach, this is what we fix our eyes on. Lofty eyes look to gratify their own self-esteem and look down on others as inferior. This lofty look the Lord hates and men agree with him. No one likes a proud look.
B. In Philippians 2.3, Paul admonishes us, “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Selfish ambition and conceit, two areas in which resides most of the problems of this earth, both which stem from a problem with God. Again I take you back to the example in David’s life. “This is your day David, kill him and you are the king, just as God said to you.” Look even at what David did. He “secretly cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.” But the Spirit will not allow even such a small and insignificant act of contempt. “David’s heart troubled him because he had cut Saul’s robe.” David then comes out of the cave and calls to Saul “My lord the king!” and when Saul turns around and looks, David stoops with his face to the earth and bows down. There we see David not usurping God’s anointed with selfish ambition or conceit, but esteeming him better by bowing down before him as his king.
C. “Neither do I exercise myself in great matters.” David gave no exercise to great pursuits such as the matter of devising plots against Saul. He minded his own business. He was not speculative, self-conceited or opinionated. Comparing him to Saul, he did not push his way into the priesthood as Saul had done before him and as Uzziah does after him. Great matters are beyond him and he does not dream or aspire to such matters. He is not qualified and does not seek through jealousy to criticize or attack those above him. Saul is superior and better qualified for the job. But more importantly than Saul’s natural qualities, the issue most important to David is that Saul is God’s anointed. There is a song that asks the question, “How big is God?” The answer was always, “He’s big enough!” He is completely content to the lowest of stations and to serve there.
D. Nevertheless, he is content in the work and place in which God has called him – and Does not despise that work to which God assigned him and fitted him! We can get to the place of despising our work and place and looking on them as insignificant and of little value, but God has called us to it. This realization reveals a true picture of our limitations. You cannot go any higher than the place which God has called. God will not allow any man above his appointed station and will turn every matter to be far greater and higher than the man can handle. For this reason, we should never worry over the wrong man getting into office or promotion. If we fully assessed the place in which we were to its fullest measure, we would quickly find out that it is high above any of our capabilities, experiences or knowledge. If we look above our station with dreaming eyes of solving the biggest of problems and answering the deepest of questions, we look to a realm of impossibility. “Well, if I put my mind up to it, I can do anything.” Nothing doing! You cannot go any higher. In this, David knew his limitations. “I do not concern myself with great matters or things too profound.” The Lord help us to be in such a state that the this same confession comes from our lips as a truthful utterance.
III. The Calm & Quieted Soul
A. The illustration is one of a child who is weaned. Obviously this is when the weaning is fully accomplished. Restlessness, fretting, complaining, inconsolable were our former days as the child being weaned from his mother’s breast. This is the first of a life-long pattern of weanings. No longer will he have her warmth against his face. The warm sweet nourishment no longer flows through his body. Suddenly and shockingly, the whole sweet nursing is over, never to return.
B. The psalmist says, “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother…” The picture here is not in the middle of the process of weaning, but after it is over. The beauty of the picture is of the weaned child in his mother’s lap as before, cuddled and consoled, but no nursing; yet the child is quiet and calm. The mother has done her part to see that he is weaned and comfort him, but ultimately the child must come to the place where he quiets himself. When he gets to the place where he can lay on her bosom without the desire, the weaning is over and then he is content with her embrace. The loss of youthful fun things, hobbies, strengths, beauties and abilities leaving us, are only the beginnings to be followed by teeth, sight, hearing, hair and faculties. We may even lose houses, savings, jobs and mates and be left to wonder how we will survive the “golden years” we have been promised. Others will make decisions for us. We will be stripped of all things; but these are the physical and emotional losses.
C. When we look into the spiritual realm, where all these ultimately lead, if properly learned; we see the beauty of growing in grace while loosing all else and mounting the tops of these grand plateaus. Such weanings will be many in number until they all finally come to an end when this life is over. The beauty of this grandeur rests upon the realization that when we have quieted ourselves what comes into full view is that the entire time our Father has comforted us. Notice how the Psalmist words this illustration, “Like a weaned child with his mother.” She is not gone. She still holds and comforts him. Our God has not left us alone. He comforts us still. But gone are the comforts that could not give life, joy, peace and rest.
D. Notice the last encouraging statement, “O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.” Right now, this very moment, hope in the Lord! Let not the night come with out a full resolve to hope and trust in the Lord. His providence is wise for now, today and tomorrow…no matter what comes. This weaning is by His own hand. He takes it away. He will no longer allow these petty sins you have been holding on to. We might as well get over it and calm and quiet our souls. Be aware of these things:
1. Such weanings grow no easier by putting them off. It is best to go ahead and quiet yourself about it and calm down.
2. Some will be harder than others to get over.
3. Do you still feel yourself sufficient?
4. When you think yourself to be through a weaning, look for the fruit: is there the fruit of contentment and calm. Are you lowly or lofty? Is the appetite gone?
5. How do you know if your pride is gone? Has submission taken its place? Or are you too high above your place at this moment?
6. It will do you good to remember the hand that weans you is that of the Father. It is not a conspiracy against you, it is the King ruling as the sovereign…submit to your master and then you too will be able to say…truthfully as did David, “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty.”.