Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quietened myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and for evermore.
When you were a child, did you have a cuddly toy that you couldn’t sleep without? Maybe a stuffed bear, a security blanket, an old t-shirt… something that gave you immeasurable comfort, that you snuggled before bed, maybe carried around with you during the day and, if it went missing, led to many tears and sleepless nights – both for you and your parents?
It’s likely that at some point, you grew out of that cuddly toy. Perhaps you still feel affection for it, but it no longer occupies that place in your life where you need it to allay fears of monsters under the bed. You don’t worry when you cannot find it. Something you thought you could not live without suddenly matters less.
This is the kind of situation the psalm is alluding to when it speaks of being ‘like a weaned child with its mother’. As Old Testament scholar Derek Kidner comments, a child that is weaned ‘no longer frets for something it used to find indispensable’. It is content without it, finding comfort in something greater.
Psalm 131 is, Spurgeon wrote, ‘one of the shortest psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn’. The psalmist used to be proud – concerning themselves with great matters, with things ‘too wonderful’ for them. They used to look down on others whilst thinking highly of themselves. But now they have recognised their limitations. They have ‘calmed and quietened’ themselves, put their hope in something greater.
It is unlikely that you still have a cuddly toy you can’t sleep without (but absolutely no judgement if you do). It’s even more unlikely that you still rely on your mother to feed you. But we most likely all have things in our lives that we see as indispensable: maybe material things, or maybe emotional things – pride, defence mechanisms, routines, ways of treating others.
This psalm encourages us that when we put our hope in God, we will find ourselves with a confidence that – unlike a security blanket – cannot be lost, damaged, or broken, but is unchanging and secure. When we recognise our limitations, and acknowledge our need for God, we find freedom from self-seeking, from fear, and from the weight of expectations. When we put our hope in the Lord, we find true contentment.