“… I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with its mother …” Psalm 131:2a (HCSB)
I found Psalm 131 curious at first read. It is very short – only three verses long. (You can read it in the power verses section below.) In it, the writer David portrays himself as a child who has been weaned.
Several places in scripture God is depicted as a mother, even a nursing mother. This may seem jarring if you are used to His “God the Father” title, but it’s a warm and nurturing picture of God. It conveys a loving life-giver who wants to see their child grow up healthy and strong. Psalm 131 shows us that weaning must take place in order for that to happen.
My first-born would rather nurse than do just about anything the first 12 months of her life. She was not interested in crib toys, stuffed animals, blankets, the baby swing, a pacifier, or a bottle. She only wanted to nurse, nearly all the time. She didn’t need that much food – all that nursing made her happy but it also made her chubby. Plus, she couldn’t go on nursing forever. While she was getting more nutrition than she needed at the time, it wouldn’t provide all she would need in the coming years. She had to wean and learn to eat the more mature food I put on the table.
Weaning caused some anxiety for my sweet daughter. She did not like having what was comfortable and familiar taken away. Sometimes she would even throw tantrums over it. However, once the weaning process was complete, she was content with her new reality. Through the weaning process, her appetites were changed. It also gave her more time to master walking and enjoy playing. She was now able and eager to stand at her mother’s side and explore her world as a toddler.
Determining the right time to wean depends on the child and the parent but when the time comes, weaning involves withholding from the child what he wants, but no longer needs. God often withholds things we want but do not need, in order to change our appetites. This is not meant to inflict anxiety or pain, but to mature us and prepare us for the next level in our walk with Him. Too often we want life to be easy and comfortable. We don’t want to grow up and face responsibilities. But that would lead to stunted development. We forget that growth and maturity are almost always forged through some type of hard work or difficultly.
Other times, however, we do want to grow up – WAY UP – and we get in a hurry to do so. We’re like the toddler who assumes she is can do everything herself. Psalm 131 speaks to this tendency in us as well. David says in the first verse that he keeps his soul from being too proud or overly ambitious. Basically, David is saying he has to make sure he doesn’t get too big for the britches God has given him!
The Message writer Eugene Peterson puts it this way: “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 …” (Psalm 131:1-2a).
Psalm 131 ends with David urging us to place our trust and hope in God. So today, I will not hope in my ambitions or grand plans for the future, nor will I desire an always-easy path so I don’t have to face difficulty. Rather I will leave all that to Him and I will simply stand at God’s side, ready to explore my day.
Dear Lord, remind me through Your Spirit to keep my ambitions and desires in check. May I grow and walk with You today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Read Psalm 131 in its entirety below.
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to discuss today’s reflection questions.Reflections:
Can you recall something you have “weaned” off of, and now your appetites are changed?
Is there something you are being weaned from now? Or something you know that God wants to wean you from?
Are you obsessing over ambitions or roles that you have created for yourself?
Psalm 131, “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.” (NIV)
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