“A song of ascents. Of David. 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.” (Psalms 131:0–1 NIV)
This is one of David’s Psalms. It certainly describes his early years – modesty, simplicity, peaceful trust. Unfortunately they were not all qualities he maintained throughout his life. We are wise if we meditate on this Psalm regularly to see how we are doing at different times in our life.
Different hymns and spiritual songs are important and helpful at different stages in our lives.Psalm 131 has been called a ‘maintenance’ Psalm. It works like a pair of pruning secetairs to a gardener; it gets rid of what might look good to those who don’t know better, but is in fact stunting our growth and preventing fruitfulness.
The whole tone of the Psalm reminds us of Matthew 18:1-4 and the instructions of Jesus as to the qualities necessary for us to be ‘great’ in the kingdom.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1–4 NIV)
Perhaps the author’s heart used to be proud, but God’s discipline has brought a change of heart that has led to the right attitude. Are we alert to the lessons in humility that God is teaching us?
Ambition is seen as a virtue in our culture. Does this blind us to its potential harmful side-effects? Do we not recognise the symptoms of corruption it can bring into our hearts? Spiritual ambition, motivated rightly is not the same as selfish ambition which is fueled by pride. Paul had goals but they were very God-focussed.
“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NIV)
Pride rejects others, haughtiness gives us an over-blown sense of our own importance. The two together leave us distant from people and God. The peace enjoyed here by the Psalmist is because pride and haughtiness have had the Phil 2:3-5 treatment,
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:” (Philippians 2:1–5 NIV)
Spurgeon said of Psalm 131 that it “..is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn.”
Maybe so, but it is a Psalm worth remembering, memorising and praying through regularly. Peace comes when we surrender our pride.
Any thoughts on this topic? Leave a comment.