Today for our worship preparation we take a look at the brief but important Psalm 131, the twelfth of the “songs of ascent”. These were the psalms sung by the children of Israel as they journeyed to the special seasons of worship in Jerusalem throughout the year. From this point of view we could also call them “pilgrim psalms”.
As such, they are also our songs as NT Christians. For we belong to the Jerusalem from above, the “mother of us all” (Gal.4:26), and we are “come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, …To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, …And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant…” (Heb.12:22-24). With joy and thanksgiving we “go up” to our God each Lord’s Day to praise and glorify Him through our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today we are called to do so again. And we do so using Psalm 131 as our guide. This precious psalm is attributed to the “sweet psalmist” of Israel, king David. Which means that, because David was a type of Christ as king of the church, Christ our sovereign, saving King leads us in worship through this song too. Let us hear Him sing this song:
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
2 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
3 Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever.
Why is this little psalm so important? Because just as the previous psalm (130) taught us that we must come into the presence of God in worship with confession of sin and confidence in God’s redeeming and forgiving mercy in our hearts and on our lips, so Psalm 131 teaches us that we must come into His presence with humility and spiritual contentment. Our holy God requires certain attitudes and behavior from us when we worship Him. We must seek Him and stand before Him and glorify Him with the right heart and with the right conduct. For He is God, the High and lofty One, Who inhabits eternity. He does not dwell with just anyone, but with those of a contrite and humble spirit (Is.57:15). He cannot and will not be glorified by those who are not fully satisfied in Him but seek their fulfillment in themselves or in idols.
And David, knowing this to be true, wrote these words as a reminder to himself and to all the people of God that we must worship the Lord in humility of heart and with spiritual contentment in Him. Our hearts may not be “haughty”, proud and full of self. Our eyes may not be “lofty”, set on self-promotion and self-fulfillment. We come into God’s presence with hearts and eyes focused on Him, fully realizing Who He is and who we are.
Nor must we come exercising ourselves “in great matters, or in things too high” for us. This too speaks to the pride that can envelop our hearts, such that we who are especially well-grounded in the faith and knowledgeable of the Scriptures think that we can fully comprehend the God we worship. That we who have such a deep understanding of the Reformed-Christian faith have the God of our salvation all figured out and can easily wrap our minds around His majesty and greatness. That worship is a relatively light and easy thing to do, and that we really “have it down pat”. That we are not truly going to learn all that much new out of God’s Word from that experienced or youthful pastor, so we don’t really need to submit ourselves to the preaching. We are “above” all this, you see. How quickly you and I can come to worship in this proud attitude and conduct! Which is why we need to sing as we prepare and as we enter the Lord’s presence, “Jehovah God, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty.”
No, when we worship, we must behave and quiet ourselves as a little child “weaned of his mother”. Are we familiar with the longing of a young child for its mother and with the contentment that that young one finds in her when he has been filled with her love and milk? Then this must also be our longing for our Father in heaven (Who is also as a spiritual nurse to us) and our satisfaction when we come into His presence and feed on Him through His Word. Let our souls seek and find their all in the God of our salvation! Let us quiet ourselves today in worship as we seek and find our satisfaction in Him alone. Let us find true rest for our souls as we rest in the bosom of our Father through His Son. Let us behave as weaned children, content with the “milk” of God and His grace alone.
Little wonder, then, that David closed this brief psalm with this direction to the church: “Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and forever.”
If you wish to meditate on this psalm through the music of the Psalter, I encourage you to make use of this versification, Ps.#366. The lyrics are posted here; the music you may find at the link provided.
1. Not haughty is my heart,
Not lofty is my pride;
I do not seek to know the things
God’s wisdom hath denied.
2. With childlike trust, O Lord,
In Thee I calmly rest,
Contented as a little child
Upon its mother’s breast.
3. Ye people of the Lord,
In Him alone confide;
From this time forth and evermore
His wisdom be your guide.