Daily D – Psalm 131
LORD, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I do not 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 (NLT)
GOD, I’m not trying to rule the roost,
I don’t want to be king of the mountain.
I haven’t meddled where I have no business
or fantasized grandiose plans.
I’ve kept my feet on the ground,
I’ve cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in its mother’s arms,
my soul is a baby content.
Wait, Israel, for GOD. Wait with hope.
Hope now; hope always!
I needed this psalm today. There are days I understand mystics across the ages who decided to go live in a cave in the wilderness alone with God. Sometimes it feels like it would be better to become a monk in a monastery than a midlife man in America.
Everyone has an escape fantasy. What’s yours?
The attractiveness of caveman living and monastery life fades as quickly as recall advises that there are no Sealy mattresses or HVAC systems in caves. Additionally, have you seen those clothes monks wear? They look awfully itchy.
So maybe I don’t want to go so far as a cave or a monastery, at least not for more than a day or two. I can go to God every day at any moment and confess to him that my britches got a little big and my head was all swelled up. The inevitable deflation left me feeling, well, deflated.
Once again, I find myself if not at Square One, at least penalized and moved back in this game of life.
I love this psalm, especially Eugene Peterson’s masterful paraphrase. This is a good psalm to commit to memory. It makes a wonderful prayer guide for blue days.
This old song empowers our confession that we have been reminded that we are not in charge here. God is. We agree with God that sometimes we act as if we are co-regents with him distributing orders and rulings and fixing things. When we are put back in our place, we stop looking down on others and start looking up to our Father in heaven again.
When I am reminded I am not all-powerful and that I make tactical errors now and again, I sit still, agree with God where I messed up, and reflect on what I have learned. Our Father in heaven is so gracious to allow us to begin again more intelligently. Sometimes you win; sometimes you learn.
Solitude and silence are where we discover God’s gracious gift of perspective and restoration. Quiet and contentment remind us to allow God to be God. He is in charge here. I do not have to control everything. He is playing chess and I am playing checkers. I am looking for a piece to jump. He sees the endgame. Spoiler alert: He wins.
As King David, a winner at both checkers and chess, makes clear in this ancient song, God is worth the waiting. If we were gamblers, we could push all our chips onto the square called Hope. Waiting on God with earnest expectation is always a winning move.
I will step into this new day with confidence.
Our Father, thank you that we are never out of your care. You are with us. You are for us. You seek our highest and best. Thank you for watching over us. Make us fruitful and effective as we join you in your work today. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”