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Psalm 131 – By Pastor/Elder Jay Swisher

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Psalm 131 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131.

This very brief Psalm is one of my favorites. I return to it when I need to rest in the Lord or when I need a reminder to trust him completely. I revel at the joy of arriving at it when I’m reading through the Bible. Psalm 131 is one of the “Songs of Ascent,” Psalms that ancient Israelites may have sung as they went to Jerusalem for the Feasts or various rituals of cleansing, thanksgiving, or sacrifice. They may have sung them with tears in their eyes as they returned from their captivity in Babylon. What they saw—the ruins of their beloved city and its holy temple—emphasized their failure to obey the Lord. It’s a humble Psalm. The writer is happy to admit he does not think of things that are “too marvelous” for him. Instead, he has “calmed and quieted” his soul. The way he describes this calm—and calming—is the part that makes this Psalm precious to me. He says he’s “like a weaned child with its mother.” He repeats part of the line as something important. This image is the epitome of peaceful rest and security. A nursing child desires his mother because of the sweet warm milk that flows from her breast into his mouth, his throat, and into what he perceives to be the center of his being—his stomach. After nursing he remains in his mother’s arms and often falls asleep in the deep comfort and satisfaction he feels. In contrast, a weaned child has forgotten the nourishing aspect and comes to his mother only for the warmth, softness, comfort, peace, and security of cuddling on Mommy’s lap. He has no other motive. I warmly remember a time when our family had been away for a fun day at the farm where my mother was born. We went there often and it was always a good time. On the way home this particular time, for some reason, I sat in the front seat on my mother’s lap rather than in the back seat with my sister. This, of course, is something that would not happen today, so I’m thankful I was born at a favorable time in history. I remember snuggling up against my mother’s chest and listening to the deep resonance of her voice in my ear as she spoke with my father as he drove. Usually, this would cause a child to fall asleep, but I was enjoying it so much that I stayed awake the entire ride home to enjoy it fully. The point of Psalm 131 is to impress on us the wonder, beauty, security, and need of resting in the Lord as a result of trusting him. We are to have this experience with the Lord “from this time forth and forevermore.” There are not very many things in life that we can do “forevermore,” but this is one of them, and it’s a precious one. Our Creator has placed a deep longing in our hearts to enjoy it in the presence of Jesus. O New Life, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. Jay (I’m not 100 years old) Swisher


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