O God, my heart isn’t lifted up
my eyes aren’t raised too high;
I don’t occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I’ve 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 God
now and forevermore.
A Song of Quiet Trust
For most of my Christian life, the Psalms didn’t leave any impression on me. The first encounter I can truly recall with Psalm 131, was in a long season of desperately seeking to hear from God and be comforted. The thought of not raising my eyes was upsetting. The idea of being a “weaned child” with respect to God (separated from the milk) was unsettling. I felt like a child being weaned. There were fits and tears and separation anxiety. I wanted to apply my good old “black highlighter” to this passage and forget I ever saw it.
Yet what I couldn’t manage to imagine then, as an infant cannot imagine, was a separation from the milk without a separation from the mom. To be at God’s bosom without nursing felt like an infinite distance. And I could only be held there—not with God’s food but simply with God—before I could be calmed and quieted.
I see only today that the NRSV gives Ps. 131 the heading “A Psalm of Quiet Trust,” which is what it had become for me. I use it occasionally to begin spiritual direction appointments. I use it often to still and to ground me when I find myself becoming uncentered. Only then, when I rest myself against God, can I “hope in God”—and not before. Only then can I leave my heart unlifted, my eyes unraised and my mind unoccupied with lofty things. Only then can I trust that they will be carried down toward me by an adoring Parent.
- As you listen to the words slowly of Psalm 131, what do you notice? Calm? Maybe a little fidgeting? What do you suppose that is?
- What’s your sense you’re being “fed” lately? Maybe it feels like getting gentle food directly from God. Maybe like you’re digesting some tough meat. Or maybe it feels like you’re scouring for food.
- How would it be to imagine yourself as a small child being held by God? How do you imagine God holding you? How does God seem to respond to how you are in God’s arms?