24 August 2020
THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM; ALL WHO FOLLOW HIS PRECEPTS HAVE GOOD UNDERSTANDING. TO HIM BELONGS ETERNAL PRAISE.
(Psalm 111: 10)
PSALM 131 – A SONG OF ASCENTS. OF DAVID.
MY HEART IS NOT PROUD, O LORD, MY EYES ARE NOT HAUGHTY; I DO NOT CONCERN MYSELF WITH GREAT MATTERS OR THINGS TOO WONDERFUL FOR ME. BUT I HAVE STILLED AND QUIETENED MY SOUL; LIKE A WEANED CHILD WITH ITS MOTHER, LIKE A WEANED CHILD IS MY SOUL WITHIN ME. O ISRAEL, PUT YOUR HOPE IN THE LORD BOTH NOW AND FOR EVERMORE.
Our series of messages on some of the Psalms of Ascents should be called “Stepping stones to God’s Heart”. Today we come to MEDITATE on the shortest psalm yet. Charles Spurgeon called it “one of the shortest psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn”. It is just a little step, but once taken it will carry us to a great distance. It is a psalm of triumph, but God’s triumph looks a lot different from the world’s triumph. Instead of talking about power and wealth and fame, Psalm 131 is all about humility and contentment. Sometimes I wonder why we are so discontented in life and so anxious in our souls. Psalm 131 has only three verses, but each verse has a simple and clear message for us on that matter: – to practice humility, to learn contentment and to live in hope. In other words, practice humility before the Lord and we will find contentment and rest for our souls.
1– PRACTICE HUMILITY (verse 1)
David begins by praying. Humility begins with a focus on God. Everything that follows takes place within the context of that single cry, O Lord!
– Do not be proud in your heart. If we want to practice humility, we should start with our own heart. For the people of old, the heart has been the centre of life and the source of all thoughts, words, and deeds. Proverbs 18: 12 says: – Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honour. When used of the heart, this word takes on the meaning of being proud or haughty, lifting our heart proudly high within ourselves.
– Do not be proud in your attitude towards others. If the proud heart has to do with pride in relation to our self, haughty eyes have to do with pride in relation to others. This is the pride that is constantly putting others down, constantly comparing the self to others, and convincing that we are better than others. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. – says Paul in his Epistle to the Romans 12: 16.
– Do not feel that you have to know or understand everything. The word that is translated “things too wonderful” is used many times in the Psalms and is especially used to speak of God’s wonders or mighty deeds. In other words, these are things that are too high for us, things that are beyond our power or too difficult for us to understand. Never ask God for someone else’s status in life.
2– LEARN CONTENTMENT (verse 2)
The second verse of the Psalm tells us what happens when we practice humility: – we learn contentment. There are three messages here: be still before the Lord, quiet your soul, and rest like a weaned child with his mother.
– Be still before the Lord. Remember when the sea is rough, with the waves chopping up and down, and then remember the still surface of a loch in a quiet summer evening. That is what this word means. If we want to learn contentment, then we need to level our soul before God and smooth out all the conflicting emotions. Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46: 10).
– Quiet your soul. The word “quiet” here means to still or silence. No more crying out. A quiet soul comes from the Lord. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11: 28 – 30).
– Rest like a weaned child with its mother. When we let go of our pride, and our comparing, and our trying to run our lives alone, we too can be quiet and still. The weaned child has reached a new stage of maturity. If we are to grow and mature as Christians, we must still and quiet our own souls. The weaned child is content with the mother, and we are to be content with God. He wants us to be like children, dependent on Him and content in Him. Jesus said in Matthew 18: 3 – 4, – I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
3– LIVE IN HOPE (verse 3)
And then finally, live in hope. David encourages and invites all Israel to put their hope in the Lord both now and for evermore.
– Put your hope in the Lord. First of all, let us put our hope in the Lord. This picks up on Psalm 130: 7 from last week, where the psalmist wrote: – O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. Here David invites others to come and share the same restful peace that he has experienced within his own soul.
– Both now and for evermore. This hope is now and forevermore. This picks up on Psalm 121: 7 – 8, – The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore. The “now” tells us that we can trust in God for all our present needs. And the “for evermore” tells that we can trust in God for all our future needs.
Psalm 131 teaches us a simple but profound truth. Those who practice humility before the Lord find contentment and rest. But when we are proud in our hearts, when we are arrogant in our attitude towards others, when we demand to be like God and know it all, our hearts are restless and discontented. There is no spiritual peacefulness except in humility which leans on God, which trusts in Him, which is not ashamed to say, “I don’t know,” or “I cannot tell;” which rejoices not in the faults and defects of others, but rejoices in whatever is true in them and good and kind. Only as we recover the spirit of a little child, of a weaned child, and rest in simple lowly faith in God shall we enter into the peace which passes al understanding.
LET US PRAY FOR:
Humility, contentment and hope. Instead of trying to be “all-knowing”, let us humble ourselves before the Lord, being still before Him to have our soul regain peacefulness. – Let’s be honest with the Lord and bring before Him all the things that are out of our control, and that we badly need Him to settle, things that disturb us, needing Him to still and quieten our souls. – Let us ask our Heavenly Father to bless and keep us with all our loved ones and sisters and brothers in Christ in these times of prolonged trouble, to heal and save all those who suffer by the Pandemic or any other illness or need, helping us to put our hope in the Lord, as we bring to Him our spoken or unspoken individual prayers … In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both now and for evermore.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
THROUGH THE LOVE OF GOD OUR SAVIOUR all will be well; free and changeless is His favour, all, all is well. Precious is the blood that healed us, perfect is the grace that seals us, strong the hand stretched forth to shield us; all must be well.
Though we pass through tribulation, all will be well; ours is such a full salvation, all, all is well. Happy, still in God confiding; fruitful, if in Christ abiding; holy, through the Spirit’s guiding; all must be well.
We expect a bright tomorrow; all will be well; faith can sing, through days of sorrow “All, all is well”. On our Father’s love relying, Jesus every need supplying, or in living or in dying, all must be well.
PEACE TO THE BROTHERS, – AND SISTERS – AND LOVE WITH FAITH FROM GOD THE FATHER AND THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. GRACE TO ALL WHO LOVE OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST WITH AN UNDYING LOVE. (Ephesians 6: 23-24)