A stilled soul
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 quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. (Psalm 131:1,2)
I love the imagery of this psalm – it’s so beautiful and so powerful at the same time. It’s a psalm that talks of what it means to know God. It is one of the ‘Psalms of Ascent’, likely sung by those going up to the temple to worship. The pilgrim people who were travelling to Jerusalem might have sung this song to remind them of why they are travelling. It wasn’t for all the hustle and bustle of Jerusalem; it wasn’t for the activity of a trip like this; it was to know and be with God.
“I do not concern myself with great matters” says the psalm. That doesn’t mean that we can’t ask deep questions or think about important things. Far from it, as Christians we are encouraged to think deeply on the things of God and to ask good questions. Great matters are good to think upon and God speaks to us about great matters of faith.
So what does the psalm mean when it talks about not concerning ourselves about great matters? The key is in how the psalm begins: “My heart is not proud”. We should never think we can know everything that God knows, or be somehow ‘better than God’ in our knowledge or understanding. That would be a rather silly aim to say the least! We can think about great matters, but we are to continually acknowledge that those great matters belong to God and are only fully understood by God alone.
In thinking and pondering on great things, our aim is not to be so full of knowledge that we are proud. Rather, as followers of Jesus we are to be like a child. Our aim should be to still and quieten our soul like a weaned child with its mother.
I love this picture of a child, and it’s important that it’s a weaned child. A child who is not yet weaned could easily be with its mother for what she can give them in terms of milk and sustenance. But a weaned child is there because they want to be there; they are there for the presence of their parent; they are there for no other reason than to rest in the arms of their mother.
That is our aim: to rest in the presence of our heavenly Father. Whatever our activity, whether church events, Bible study, theological pondering or anything else, this is our goal. We do not occupy ourselves with these things for all the busyness and activity, though there is plenty. We act ultimately to rest in the presence of God, and continue to do so. It can be rather easy to get lost in the busyness, even in the busyness of church and Christian life. If that is you, and it is all of us from time to time, why not take some time today to be still, to quieten your heart, and rest with your Father God.