As content as a child
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 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.
2 But I have calmed and quietened myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and for evermore.
The Songs of Ascents or Songs of Degrees are calls from the world to God. In the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite, the Songs of Degrees make up the Eighteenth division of the Psalter and are read on Friday evenings at Vespers throughout the liturgical year.
Aspiration turned on its head
A weaned child is no longer dependant on his mother for milk. David, who wrote this Psalm, was a King and had all the affairs of state to deal with is talking about staying humble. It is necessary to keep things simple. To remember that societies are groups of people who solve things together is important in a leader. Another important lesson to learn is that God is in charge. David did not get everything right, he made some terrible big mistakes, but he was able to humble himself and admit his faults.
In a world where any karaoke will contain someone singing My Way, the song written by Paul Anka and made famous by Frank Sinatra, Where aspiration is everything. We must make it to the top of the heap, as another Sinatra song, New York, New York put it. This is a world where aspiration is everything. This Psalm is the opposite. It is the song of someone who is at the top saying he is not trying to rule the roost. Someone who wishes to cast off the complexities of adult life and become childlike in trust of God again. Unbelievable.
It is not that we cannot understand this, Psalm 131 is short and in simple language, But it goes against society and against our egos to be humble. We think that if we do not become something we become nothing, but nothing could be further from the truth, we do not come to God out of a weakness, it is not about dependency but trust. Trust in the greatest being in the universe who loves us and will not let us down.
I’m talking mature trust. Psalm 131 is towards the end of the psalms of ascent, which are meant to be sung in order and are descriptive of a spiritual journey. We are not talking of the humility of conversion here but a return to being humble in the sight of God and to people. Being humble in our dealings with people in a dog eat dog world is the calling of the Christian.