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. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore. Psalm 131
EAVESDROP WITH ME on this rich conversation David has with God. It’s one of a collection of fifteen Psalms that I call “Poems for Pilgrims.” If you look in your Bible you’ll notice the titles of Psalms 120 to 134 are called “Songs of Ascent” or something of that sort. These are special songs every observant Jew sang on their ascent up to Jerusalem every year on their ceremonially required feast days. This song reminded them to be childlike instead of childish or churlish on their pilgrimage.
For us, this particular tiny chorus points way beyond Jewish religious regimen and highlights the indispensable virtues of humility and childlikeness required of pilgrims on our journey toward spiritual maturity.
Of this poem the great Charles Spurgeon said, “This is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.” Evolving from childish to childlike in our faith is not easy, albeit not impossible.
I was an incorrigibly spoiled kid. I acted as though I was the earth’s axis. The world was in the movie in which I starred. I expected to be catered to and through a tantrum until I got what I wanted. It’s taken me over forty years to be willing to play a supportive role. It’s still my movie.
Since my soul has neither been particularly calm or quiet lately I’ve been using these Spirit-inspired words of David for meditation purposes a lot. It’s not that I find surrender difficult, it’s staying surrendered that is problematic for me. Repeating the Psalm and meditating on each part helps reinforce my confidence in God and provides a measure of spiritual sanity that results from coming to him with a “stilled” soul.
It begins with a humility that reminds us that we have a very limited capacity to run the universe.
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.
Childlike pilgrims stay out of God’s chair! They’re not so arrogant as to presume to help God run his world.
C.S. Lewis dubbed pride as “The Great Sin.” “There are two kinds of people in the world, the proud who think they’re humble and the humble who think they’re proud.” Everyone has this same weed growing inside that cannibalizes any good in its path. Killing it is difficult and even harder to get it to stay dead.
Read about what it means to be Conceited
It’s arrogant to think we can figure out all of life’s “great matters.” Elsewhere the psalmist confessed, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalm 139:6)
In order to advance toward our goal, serious spiritual pilgrims are relentless in their battle against the spirit of entitlement that says: “I deserve answers to all my questions, to know what’s going on all the time on my pilgrimage. I require explanations for all my difficulties along the way. Everything has to fit inside my previously approved categories. God owes me explanations for the way he goes about things.”
I wonder why some people came to Jesus to begin with. Did they come for bread or for the Bread of Life? Do they serve a sovereign God or demand a “servant god”?
Childlike Pilgrims don’t concern themselves with “great matters or things too wonderful for them.” They leave the management of the universe to God. Doing this quiets and calms their soul.
We’ll look at that next time…
In the meantime, I recommend one or both of these books that might help you lean into your spiritual pilgrimage: