Lord, my heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I do not get involved with things too great or too wondrous for me (131:1 CSB)
Psalm 131 is a short, little-known song of David. Some dispute that he wrote it (some dispute everything!), but there is nothing to indicate that he was not the author. In fact, what we know of David, the man after God’s heart, agrees well with this writing. Consider his attitude in 2 Samuel 6:20-22. He was very willing to humble himself before the Lord, even if others might despise him. “In general David is the model of the state of mind which the poet expresses here. He did not push himself forward, but suffered himself to be drawn forth out of seclusion. He did not take possession of the throne violently; but after Samuel has anointed him, he willingly and patiently traverses the long, thorny, circuitous way of deep abasement, until he receives from God’s hand that which God’s promise had assured to him. The persecution by Saul lasted about ten years, and his kingship in Hebron, at first only incipient, seven years and a half. He left it entirely to God to remove Saul and Ishbosheth. He let Shimei curse. He left Jerusalem before Absalom. Submission to God’s guidance, resignation to his dispensations, contentment with what was allotted to him, are the distinguishing traits of his noble character.” (Delitzsch)
The psalm is a song about childlike trust and humility before God. A practical use of it would be to teach this godly virtue (like there are songs for children about the fruit of the Spirit). The New Testament Scriptures teach this same attitude in passages like Matthew 18:3; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5. (Also read Lloyd-Jones’ sermon “The Approach to the Gospel” in Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons, pp. 33-43.)
What kind of trust does God expect his people to demonstrate in perplexing situations? Are you in a perplexing situation now? Are you becoming anxious or frustrated?
This psalm outlines easily:
- The attitude of childlike trust (131:1)
- The action of childlike trust (131:2)
- The invitation to childlike trust (131:3)
The psalm begins with the stance we must take before the living God. David says that we must put off an attitude of being “big” enough to handle life on our own. We must not say that we are able to start from ourselves and understand or that we can unravel life’s mysteries. David immediately directs us to a different kind of approach to God, which, when you think on it, shows the true meaning of trusting God. It is to bow before God and say, “You speak, you explain, and I will listen.”
The text, then, deals with a common human attitude. We want to search, to investigate, and to analyze starting from ourselves. But to start that way is not to trust God, but it is to think ourselves capable of understanding life and the world apart from God. The way of faith is to bow before the Lord and say, “Lord, I need your help. I need you to teach me.” Most people are unwilling to so humble themselves before God.
Here is an amazing profession in prayer before the living God! “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty….” We want to ask, “How can you say that, David?” Is not that statement itself some underhanded way of expressing pride? Cf. Luke 18:11-12.
- We must remember that David is writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who both knew David’s heart and wanted him to write this. We know from the Scriptures that David had to struggle with pride as the rest of us do. (Read 2 Samuel 24.) But that is not the point of the psalm. It is presenting the general attitude that trust must have, especially in relation to the mind.
- Notice that David is speaking to God — “O LORD” — and not to people. So, he is not trying to exalt himself before people. It is the saint speaking to his God. But how can we make this kind of statement before the Holy and All-knowing God? We can do it only by the Spirit, as he searches and examines our hearts.
Too often, any of us can have a “know-it-all” attitude. We might despise this when we encounter it in others, but we can be blind to our own pride. Lord, help us learn from this psalm! How refreshing it would be to hear a whole congregation of believers singing this psalm from the core of their hearts!
Grace and peace,