25 February, 2006

Meditation: Psalm 131

O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD From this time forth and forever.
-Psalm 131, NASB


In the providence of God this Psalm has been on my heart and mind quite a bit lately. This Psalm was assigned for me to preach- but the text was in error and now I have Romans 12.1-2. In the past week I have spent much time meditating on this Psalm as well as hearing it expounded by Seminarian Bill Boekestein of the United Reformed Churches and Rev. Ray Lanning of my church.

The Psalm begins with the great king of Israel in humble submission to the Lord. He speaks of being humbled in areas of thought, word, and deed. David stands before God in humility. This is our calling as Christians as well- we are to be humbled before the Lord.

The second verse of the Psalm speaks of great trust. The weaned child is one who has learned to trust that his mother will provide nourishment in due time. The Christian rests in the arms of Christ knowing that all needs will be supplied; even in great hunger and calling out to God- the Christian can rest assured that the Lord will provide and give care.

The third verse is one that goes from the individual attention of David to the entire people of God. Not only does David rest and trust in the Lord, but he calls on all of Israel to have this great hope. As followers of Jesus Christ, we too, need to call-out for the Church to trust in the Lord. All those that love Christ will love His bride and have her care in mind. Not only should we rest peaceably on the chest of Christ, but we should call the Church to have this peace as well.

The vain desires with which men are carried away, originate in their seeking to be wise and careful above what is necessary. David adds accordingly, my soul over me is quieted, not as expressing the language of self-confidence, but speaking as if his soul lay sweetly and peacefully on his bosom, undisturbed by inordinate desires. He contrasts the wayward and tumultuous agitation which prevails in those of a discontented spirit, with the peace which reigns in the man who abides in the calling of the Lord. From the verse with which the Psalm closes, we see the reason why David asserted his having undertaken nothing in the spirit of a carnal ambition. He calls upon Israel to hope in the Lord, words which must have been abrupt had it not deeply concerned the common safety of the Church, to know that he sat upon the throne of the kingdom by Divine appointment, in which case the faithful would be certain of the bestowment of the promised blessing. Our hope is of the right kind when we cherish humble and sober views of ourselves, and neither wish nor attempt anything without the leading and approbation of God. -John Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms, volume 5

3 comments:

maggie said...

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

What does this mean? What are "great matters"? Does this mean we shouldn't be striving to improve ourselves? Or just that we should be humble, as the Calvin quote appears to be saying?

Or is the point just that we should be trusting in God and resting on Him?

Mark said...

I think the "be humble" approach is the best... David was a king, and involved in what most of us would consider "great matters". (Though I think a lot of the more important things in life take place on a much more localized scale, but that's another issue altogether.)

Thanks for putting the Calvin quote up. I've been using a condensed version of his commentaries on the Psalms for devotions, it's been quite helpful. Really skews the idea a lot of us have of Calvin being a dour old sourpuss as well... his sense of wonder over Psalm 19 is staggering.

Nate said...

I second what Mark says, but I would add:

David is not wanting to look into the secret things of God.

And

David is NOT saying that we cannot strive for higher learning and greater knowledge.