Psalm 131 – LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD now and always.
Psalm 131 is a psalm of ascent which was sung as the Jewish pilgrims made their way up to Jerusalem to observe the feasts of the Lord. In it David shares three things that will bring us what thousands of dollars, many doctors and countless pills never can, real rest. Where worldly contentment comes from inactivity and perfect circumstances, Godly contentment can traverse all of life’s circumstances. David reveals that the first key to contentment is:
When David said, “Lord, my heart is not proud my eyes are not haughty” he is talking about not being high minded. Today we live in a society stuck on self, where we are dying in the millions from the deadly disease of ME. It is a society consumed by the need to always be right, and preoccupied with being pampered. But David’s heart attitude was one that didn’t have to be served, he was a humble man. The reason this statement speaks so loudly is that it wasn’t coming from a commoner but a king. Not just any King, but the King of Israel, from the one who’s throne would stand forever. Given his position it would be easy to have a haughty heart but David didn’t have an inflated sense of self importance. I think one of the reasons why is because even though he was a king, he had never stopped being the shepherd boy that Samuel anointed. David didn’t let success swell his ego, he didn’t let the place God had put him in puff his pride. So often we use God’s gifts as a platform for pride, parading around because of some position God has placed us in. But David remained a servant, he didn’t change just because he was put into the position of a king. This is a rare thing today, many let blessing go to their heads instead of their hands and feet. A modern day model of humility that always comes to mind when I read Psalm 131 is Billy Graham. A man who through the years has remained both humble and real. I think like David in his heart he never stopped being a farm boy from North Carolina, even though God made him one of the greatest evangelists the world has known. David reminds us that the key to humility is humble servanthood. When we live life always having to be right, preoccupied with being pampered, then we not only miss the point but we will become miserable people. We have created a society of the selfishly sensitive, where we demand our rights even at he expense of others. Humility starts with attitude which then flows into action. As David talks about humility in attitude, first he deals with how we think about self, “my heart is not proud” not being puffed up with a sense of our own importance. Second how we think about others, “my eyes are not haughty” so as to not expressing arrogance or contempt towards others. How you view self will in large part dictate how you view and treat others. In Matthew 20:26-27 Jesus said: “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave” Our heart position of pride or humility will either cause us to look up or down on when it comes to others. It is interesting to see the progression of personal evaluation in Paul’s life:
• I am the least of the apostles- 1 Corinthians 15:9
• I am the least of all the saints- Ephesians 3:8
• I am the chief of sinners- 1 Timothy 1:15
Positionally what is the pulse of your heart, servant or superior? We need this reminder that the greatest key to contentment is to die to self importance, to surrender our selfish demands and don the attitude of a servant. Just as Jesus, who alone deserved all praise and honor, girded himself with a towel and washed the disciples feet, so we must also seek to serve. Yet everywhere we look pride worms its way into the fabric of our lives.
We take pride in our birth and rank, but it’s said of Jesus, He was a carpenter’s son.
We take pride in possessions, but it’s said of Jesus, “The Son of man had no place to lay His head.”
We take pride in our respectability, but it’s said of Jesus, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
We take pride in our personal appearance, but it’s said of Jesus, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him”
We take pride in our reputation, but it’s said of Jesus, “Here is a glutton and a drunkard”
We take pride in our friendships, but it’s said of Jesus, “He was a friend of tax collectors and sinners.”
We take pride in our independence, but Jesus gave himself to people and had the woman at the well draw water for him.
We take pride in our degrees and learning, but Jesus never went to college and it’s said of Him, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
We take pride in our position, but Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves.”
We take pride in our success, but it’s said of Jesus, “His own did not receive Him or believe on Him. He was despised and rejected.”
We take pride in our self-reliance, but it’s said of Jesus, “He went down to Nazareth and was subject to His parents.”
We take pride in our abilities, but Jesus said, “I can of mine own self do nothing.”
We take pride in our self-will, but Jesus said, “I seek not my own will but the Father’s.” And “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done”
We take pride in our intellect, but Jesus said, “As the Father has taught me, I speak these things.”
We take pride in our resentment and justifiable pride, but Jesus said, “Father, forgive them.”
We take pride in our holiness, but it’s said of Jesus, “He receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”
We take pride in the fact we’re the righteousness of God, but it’s said of Jesus, “He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf in order that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
Oh how many places has pride pierced my life over the years, where I have learned the hard way what Benjamin Whichcote said “none are so empty as those who are full of themselves” The truth is that when we are wrapped up in ourselves we make a pretty small package. The second key to contentment that David reveals is:
After humility of attitude David goes on to deal with the humility of actions, dealing with both the degree of importance and difficulty. Being careful not to bit off more than we can chew, lest we choke on our arrogance. When David says, “I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp” he is stating a powerful truth, I don’t have to figure everything out. The reality is that there are some things in this life that I don’t understand because they are beyond me, and I don’t have to become consumed with trying to figure it all out. I am not talking about going through life blissfully ignorant or not taking time to think, rather I’m talking about this incessant need to try and figure out God. The reality is that God has gone to great lengths to make himself known to us through His Word, His Son, and the presence of His Spirit in our lives, yet there is still much about God that is cloaked in mystery. There are things that I will never understand, like why he allows certain things to happen in my life. But the great question is not so much what is God doing, but am I content to let Him be in control? In Psalm 139 when David considered how God knew when he sat and when he rose, or how He knew his words before they were on his tongue, and the One who saw him in his mother’s womb when He formed him, who knew all the days He had ordained for him before they came into being, David said of his God, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” There are many things about the person of God, and about the the way God works that we may not understand. We must grapple with what God has revealed and rest in His grace and goodness for that which comes into our lives that we do not understand. The third key to contentment then is:
● SELF CONTROL
David reveals much in his life when he says, “I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” He paints a vivid picture of his soul no longer crying and demanding that his passions be satisfied. This is the picture of maturity, no longer controlled by ones selfish passions, but content simply with Christ. But this contentment involves a painful process, as all parents come to realize. There is a time when the only way for a child to mature is to give up its milk, and that involves crying. You may want to rush in and fulfill their demands, but you know that the only way to get them past this stage involves pain. Eventually their tears are replaced with rest and they are able to move toward maturity, yet only through the pain do they discover peace. Just like a baby David also went through this painful process in order to find contentment of soul. He had to deny his passions, to let his need to be pampered, to have his way, to react in anger, and let the cries of his flesh go unanswered. We will either master our passions or they will master us. Paul calls this process putting to death the deeds of the flesh. We must by the Spirit of God allow our sinful selfish passions go unanswered, for the more we attend to our sinful desires, the stronger their cry will be, and the more they will control us. Our contentment will only increase as we rest in our secure relationship with the Lord. This is the kind of relationship that a weaned child enjoys resting against his mother. The question is where are we at in the weaning stage, are we still in the struggle or have we arrived at the restful phase? Are you in rebellion, throwing temper tantrums demanding to have your needs met. Or are you at that place where you no longer crave what God can do for you as much as you simply crave Him? Instead of depending on the milk you are now depending on Him. We find contentment in life through a humble servants attitude, simplicity of mind, and through self control. Its not an easy process, one which Paul referred to as a process of learning when He said, “I have learned how to be content with whatever I have” Philippians 4:11. It is a process that paves the road to rest. So are you willing to let God begin this process in you? For pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the one who has it!