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 PSALM 131

HUMILITY!

"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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever."

 

 A Preacher in his Study

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESSON 1, INTRODUCTION:

It's a short Psalm.

But since it's the Word of God, this little Chapter is a significant Psalm.

I'm speaking of Psalm 131, one of the fifteen Psalms of Degrees.

"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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever." Psalm 131, the whole thing!

First today, just a note or two about those "Psalms of Degrees."

The "superscript" to Psalm 131 simply reads: "A Song of degrees of David." Now we know the human writer, King David, still keeping in mind that the Holy Spirit is the true Author. All Scripture is divinely inspired.

The noun "degrees" translates "maalah," a word meaning "steps" at times, "stairs" on occasion, and even "stories" a couple of times, as in the "stories" of a building, "floors" in other words.

It suggests increments of advancement.

Stair steps from a lower point to a higher one.

Some of the older writers, godly ones too, saw in these Psalms "levels" of Christian growth!

From infancy in Christ all the way to utmost maturity!

These fifteen chapters can be applied that way, too. I've at least attempted to do so, in years past, with great joy and insight resulting.

"Fifteen secrets to spiritual growth," I called them!

One writer of long ago says these fifteen Psalms all fit into a progression, three Psalms at a time, units that each picture Trial, Trust, and then Triumph in the Christian's life!

It's just that in each new "trio," Psalms 120-122 followed by Psalms 123-125 then Psalms 126-128 and so forth, the Trials get a little harder and the Trust gets a little stronger and the Triumphs or Victories get a little sweeter!

Wow!

This concept "works" too!

Then there is one more thought about the Psalms of Degrees.

Many believe the Jews of old memorized these Psalms and chanted or sang or at least quoted them three times a year as they journeyed up to Jerusalem for the great Feasts of the Lord, Passover and Pentecost and Tabernacles.

Jerusalem is almost always considered as being "up," from nearly anywhere in Israel. It is an elevated city, no doubt. So these pilgrims are ascending the land, going up toward their capital City, reciting these fifteen chapters as they travel. That's a form of worship, you know.

Any view you want to take, or a combination of all thee, is fine. Just as long as you study these portions of God's Word!

Yes, study them.

Learn from them.

Apply them personally.

And obey them!

Oh, Psalm 131, if considered in that Trial then Trust then Triumph paradigm, is one of the "Triumph" Psalms!

It's in the next-to-the-last cycle, too.

Way on up there!

If we analyze it carefully, it just might have some little "nuggets" of truth, well worth considering!

I'm almost sure it does.

Until tomorrow, let's read it one more time, prayerfully. Asking the Lord to reveal to us "wondrous" things out of His Word!

That's exactly what David prayed, or the Psalmist did, in Psalm 119:18. "Lord, Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."

Yes!

And "wondrous" means "outstanding, marvelous, surpassing, extraordinary," and occasionally even "hard!"

The Word of God, what a Book!

"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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever." Psalm 131

Anybody looking forward to this?

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2, NOT HAUGHTY:

Psalm 131 is not typical.

It is not "dedicated" to anyone.

It is not to be sent to the "Chief Musician" either.

No specific information is left concerning its singing by the Levitical choirs of ancient Israel.

Nor do we know anything about the setting, the background, of the Psalm either.

Wow!

It's just an account of one man's, David's, experience one day. Then a very brief "application" of the "moral" of the Psalm.

Here's how it begins.

"LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty." Psalm 131:1, to which we all must respond with amazement!

David just said, in so many words, that he had conquered pride in his life!

It's almost as if he just claimed utter "humility" as his own!

A critic might say, "David is here humble, and proud of it!"

But that critic would be wrong!

First of all, David himself did not write these words, not exactly! No, I am not denying Davidic authorship. The liberals do that, too.

I am saying that this Psalm is actually a product of the Holy Spirit of God, not any mere man!

All Scripture is inspired, directly and verbally, word for word, being totally without error!

So David, speaking truthfully, is still "motivated" and "moved" by the Spirit to write.

"LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty." The noun "heart" is "leb" in Hebrew, the "innermost" part of a person. That part of an individual "deep down" within him or her, that part which "thinks" and "feels" and "decides" the issues of life!

The adjective "haughty" translates "gabhh," wow! What a spelling! It means "something "high, lofty, tall, upward." It is rendered "proud" one time in the Old Testament. Once in its 34 appearances.

The accompanying adjective "lofty" is obviously a synonym too. "Rum" is based on a verb meaning "to rise up, to heave, to be erect."

No doubt, "humility" is the real subject here, the very opposite of haughtiness and loftiness.

And truth be told, that was one of David's strong points, humility.

Had he said, "Lord, my heart is not lustful, not ever," we all would have laughed.

Had he said, "Lord, my heart is not devious, having never harmed anyone," again "raised eyebrows" would have been the result.

But instead he said, "Lord, my heart is not haughty."

True it seems, even for David, as a lad or later as a young man or even when King of all Israel!

But what is humility and is it that important?

Humility is giving God credit for all his accomplishments in one's life!

Taking no glory for oneself!

All I am I owe to God!

All I've accomplished, He really did!

All I've ever learned too, though not all that much, He really taught me!

Anywhere I've ever been, He provided for me to go!

Anything good ... God is its Source!

Humility!

And to that "importance" question, yes it's fundamental, critically so!

God resists a proud person! James 4:5 and 1st Peter 5:5 both say so! "Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."

Pride leads to trouble in the spiritual life, every time! "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18

And this too. "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look ..." Wow! Number one on God's Proverbs 6 "Things I Hate" list ... pride!

Also Solomon, son of David, wrote: "A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit." Proverbs 29:23

Plus, when the Holy Spirit moves into a person's heart and life, filling that individual for Christian service, one of His by-products, one of His fruits, is "meekness," a first cousin to humility!

And while usually "base" things are thought to be "abominations" to God, get this verse, "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD." Proverbs 16:5

I'm so glad David has testified to us this morning, straight from Psalm 131, its very first line! "LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty."

This is not bragging, but truth-telling!

And it's also an encouragement to me to stay "humble" before God!

And just how does one do that?

Peter tells us the secret. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." 1st Peter 5:6, which is quite a surprise!

We can actually humble ourselves!

Paul "nails" this one in Romans 12:3. "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly."

I can try to make myself humble and lowly, giving God credit for everything good in my life, or I can face the consequences.

If I do not try to cultivate humility, God will send some anyway!

Often in fast mode!

He knows how to humble us!

Believe me!

Listen to David again in Psalm 35:13. "I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into mine own bosom." Another example of self-humiliation.

Humility, a trait of every growing Christian!

Oh, how we need more of it today.

Even in our Churches!

And I fear, really fear, even in our Pulpits!

"God help us."

"God help me."

And, if you don't mind my praying it, "God help you too."

Humility!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3, THINGS TOO HIGH FOR ME:

Psalm 131 continues, short as it is. "Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me." These words comprise the last half of the first verse.

The verb "exercise" is "halak," the primary Hebrew verb for "walking." It means "to travel, to traverse, to amble about."

The Psalmist is not going to live his life "worrying" or "bothered" or "upset" about things too great or too high, in other words, matters "over his head!"

He is resolved, determined! "I will not exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me."

Of those two adjectives, "great" is "gadol," meaning "large in size or intensity." High, loud, mighty, all superlative terms.

The other word, "high," translates "pala." It means "marvelous or wonderful" most of the time. However, it also can mean "hard, difficult, beyond one's power!"

David is here admitting that some areas of life are "beyond him!"

He will not invest all his time in such endeavors.

It takes too much "emotional and intellectual energy," he might have thought.

Especially, if one knows God, such things can safely be placed into His great Hands! Trusting Him in those kinds of situations!

Wow!

This reminds me of one of those "catch-all" verses we often use. "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law." Leave the "secrets" alone, until God reveals them. If He reveals them! Deuteronomy 29:29

This Lesson today, "Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me," is another example of David's humility.

The whole first verse can now be fused back together: "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." Psalm 131:1

Quietly living life, leaning on the Lord!

Knowing He is in control!

Of everything!

Someone reading here today is trying to carry a load much too heavy!

You just can't handle it.

It will break you!

The issues you are confronting are "too great" and "too high" for you!

Enter Jesus!

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30

Also Peter wrote, about Jesus: "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." 1st Peter 5:7

Or Jeremiah's question, straight from the mouth of Almighty God: "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?" Jeremiah 32:27

Don't battle those "crushing" things of life!

Take them to your Lord!

After all, He has invited you to do so.

Again and again!

"Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me."

No doubt this Lesson is for someone special today. Someone the Lord knew would be visiting these pages!

And that someone may be me!

Or you!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4, ON BEHAVING ONESELF:

I've been told this a thousand times! As a boy, growing up, by my Dad. I think Dad much more than Mom.

"Behave yourself!"

Oh yes!

It's possible for a boy to do that too, under threat of something painful! Like a whipping!

"Behave yourself."

But I don't think I've ever heard today's second command, from Psalm 131:2, at least not expressed just like the King James has it.

"Quiet yourself!"

Of course I have heard "Get quite" a number of times.

Here's our verse today, really, our half-verse.

"Surely I have behaved and quieted myself." This is David talking, either as a young man or perhaps later in life, even when King.  Psalm 131:2a

Something "upsetting" must have just occurred.

Or maybe, based on the context, something "hard" to understand.

Something "over his head," David's head.

In review, here is what he last said, yesterday. "I do not exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me." Psalm 131:1b

And whatever has happened, David is determined not to let it make him "misbehave!"

Or become loud and boisterous, "unquiet" so to speak.

"I have behaved and quieted myself."

The verb "have behaved" is "shavah," a surprise. It actually means "to level" something, "to make it smooth."

However, here the verb is expressed in the piel stem, revealing "intensive, dramatic, vigorous action." So it can now mean "to set or to place."

None of these possible definitions are "ideal" to our context. But that's what we have to work with, and the Holy Spirit makes no mistakes.

David must be saying that he has resolved to stay emotionally "level," not "peaking" in anger or frustration or "dipping" into discouragement or depression.

He has required this of himself!

He has doggedly "placed himself" in a position of "self-control." His actions are pre-determined.

He will soberly and deliberately "behave."

No matter the situation he faces, an event that is not precisely revealed in the Psalm.

That's probably best, too. Then we preachers can say, "Whatever comes our way, we must behave and quietly trust our Heavenly Father."

"I have behaved and quieted myself."

The verb "quieted" is more easily defined. "Damam," also intensive, means "to be still, to wait, to be silent." It's reflexive, too, meaning that David is doing this to himself.

He will keep his mouth shut, not even questioning things like the Old Testament character Job sometimes did! Or talking back to God, like Jeremiah once did! Or bragging, like Peter often did!

None of that from the Psalmist.

Whatever just happened, he will take it quietly! Passively! As if it were directly "from the Lord!"

Wow!

David, we admire you! "Surely I have behaved and quieted myself."

That opening word, "surely," is strange, too. It's just "im" in Hebrew, meaning anything from "whether, when, since, if," to name a few. Obviously then it can express a "conditional" situation, but it also can indicate the presence of an "oath."

I think that's what we have here. David has promised himself that his responses to life's surprises, things too "high" and way too "hard" for him to handle, will not make him behave wrongly or complain loudly!

Wow again!

Why can't Brother Bagwell learn that lesson?

"I am resolved," David says. "I will behave and keep quiet," in the midst of all life's upheavals!

Peter once commended Sarah, Abraham's wife, for having a "meek and quiet spirit!" 1st Peter 3:4, an admirable way to live, one that Psalm 131:2 just recommended to us all!

Anybody going through one of those "upsetting" times right now?

See if you can, with God's help, respond like David did.

"Surely I have behaved and quieted myself."

Sort of, "Be still and know that He is God!" Psalm 46:10 style!

David here is exemplifying Psalm 27:4, which he also wrote. "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."

Wow again!

Tomorrow, Lord willing, David will give us a "word picture" to match this "behaving and quieting oneself." A good metaphor is worth a thousand words anyway.

Meanwhile, until then, you all behave!

Remember, the Lord is watching!

And listening!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5, LIKE A WEANED CHILD:

It's called a "figure of speech."

Particularly, a "simile," since it is introduced with the word "as."

David has quieted himself and behaved himself, "as a child that is weaned of his mother." Psalm 131:2b

This is a touching word picture. Personal. Does David here, do remember that Psalm 131 is written by David, sense his days of childhood?

Strange as this may sound, I remember an incident that compares to this "weaning" experience. I do not know how old I was, of course. Very young, but maybe too old to have still been taking a "bottle."

Then again, maybe this was all a "trick" by my Mom to get me "off" the bottle! The particular "bottle," a baby bottle now, she had given me that morning had a defective nipple on the end of it. That thing tasted terrible! Like extremely burnt rubber! Awful!

The taste of the rubber was so bad, the taste of the milk did not matter!

I think, upon more reflection as I write here this December Saturday, that just may have been the last time I ever took a bottle.

But it was not without a great deal of protest from this Bagwell child! I, though now ashamed to say it, remember crying, loudly! Maybe even more than that! Seems like I recall throwing the bottle! Begging Mom to look for another nipple for the thing! Things got emotional!

Seems too like I remember getting a "whipping" over the whole situation!

I'm pretty sure that was the day I was "weaned."

My Mother is in Heaven or I would call her to get more detailed information. Surely she would remember this whole episode.

All I am saying is this, "as a child that is weaned of his mother," that whole process is not always an easy thing!

"Weaning" is terrible!

If baby psychologists existed back then, I'm sure one would have specialized in the "weaning" process, its trauma and impact!

I jest, of course, a little bit anyway.

Still, "weaning" is life changing, for the child anyway.

And in Bible days this "weaning" thing did not occur at too early an age. Often a child was several years old before fully weaned.

Come to think of it, maybe Mom was practicing Biblical child rearing with me!

Old enough to remember that bottle incident, like it was yesterday!

I can still "taste" that burnt rubber!

David' implication in today's Psalm 131 Verse is that the Lord "weans" His children, too.

I needed to learn that there was something better, food-wise, that just milk!

Bread and meat and even vegetables!

Or had the bottle become just a "pacifier" thing to me?

Any way one looks at it, I needed to "grow up!"

The Lord needs that of us, too!

"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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother ...." Psalm 131:1-2

That verb "weaned" is "gamal," literally meaning "to reward, to recompense!" Four times it is "to deal bountifully!"

God wants me to lean not to delight as much in the "bottle" He gives, but in He Himself, His Person! His Being, His Presence!

Do I love Jesus for His "presents," like here at Christmastime, for His "gifts," for His "blessings," or do I love Him for His "Person?"

Wow!

David in Psalm 131 has just faced something very "high" or very "hard" in his life. Like Job did maybe, or Naomi.

Instead of kicking and screaming though, like an infant demanding his mother's attention, David has quietly and submissively rested in his Mom's lap, like a now weaned child!

Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother ...."

What I thought was "meanness," not giving me a better nipple, was in fact a "blessing!"

And those occasions when I think God has given me a "hard" time, a "difficult" season of life, He really was just "dealing bountifully" with me in some way.

Preparing me for higher roads and brighter paths, spiritually!

And after all, a "weaned" child is quieter, more docile, trusting and content, at his Mother's side!

Bagwell, quit squawking!

Lean on Jesus' Breast!

Trust Him as the Reward of life!

He is the Blessing, not those last ten answers to prayer!

He is God, and none other!

Job, at times, after the extended "troubles" came ... was not all that quiet! "Even to day is my complaint bitter: my stroke is heavier than my groaning. Oh that I knew where I might find him, the Lord! That I might come even to His seat! I would order my cause before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say unto me." Job 23:2-5, not like a weaned child!

Nor was Jeremiah, once anyway. "O Lord, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the Word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name." Jeremiah 20:7-9, not very quiet either!

Even the Psalmist a time or two! "How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death." Psalm 13:1-3, not like a weaned baby! He here is still kicking and screaming! Complaining! And impatient!

But now let's study Jesus, for a whole new meaning of "weaned!" In the Garden of Gethsemane, facing Death. "Then said Jesus, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. And He went a little further, and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." Like a baby who has learned to trust! No pacifier needed! Perfect obedience! A meek and quiet spirit too, Matthew 26:38-39.

How do I act when "hard" times come?

Like a weaned child?

How about each of you, our dear readers?

Maybe we each should make this behavior our goal! "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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother ...."

Amen!

Now to be fair, Job at times did reflect this attitude. Having lost nearly everything he owned, early in his long ordeal, he said this. "Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:20-21, hear the trust! What a good example! Like that weaned child!

Today's Text again, how to handle those "high" and "hard" things of life! "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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother ...." Psalm 131:1-2

Thank you, Lord.

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, SOUL SEARCHING:

Most of us have heard the term "soul-searching."

It might come from the last two verses of Psalm 139. "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

This idea, introspection of some kind, is pictured in today's Text, Psalm 131:2, the last clause. "My soul is even as a weaned child." David wrote that, the sweet Psalmist of Israel, the man after God's Own Heart.

Remember that the verb "weaned" is "gamal," meaning "to ripen" but also "to reward or recompense."

One's "soul," spelled "nephesh," is his or her very "life." In fact, "naphash," the verb, means "to breathe!"

My soul is my "innermost being," who I really am!

Philosophically the soul likely includes one's mind and will and emotions.

Therefore to be "weaned" in the "soul" suggests several things. And these things must be considered in the light of David's context here. A context of his just having faced "things too high" or "matters too great" for humanity to handle. "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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child." Psalm 131:1-2, two thirds of the whole chapter!

"Great," in Hebrew "gadol," can mean "haughty" but also "large or giant in magnitude and extent." And "too high" is "pala," often meaning "hard or difficult!"

David has been facing some huge problems!

Unnamed, they still must have been catastrophic!

Of course David lived that kind of life, dramatic!

But here's the thing, when he faced those upsetting situations, too big for him to conquer, he had learned to trust His Heavenly Father.

Well, his Heavenly Father here may be pictured in terms of a Heavenly Mother, without yielding one inch to the feminists either.

David, with his world falling apart!

David, in crisis mode!

David, when others would have panicked!

Says peacefully, "My soul is even as a weaned child."

The weaned soul, consequently, means "trust" in the face of doubt! Imagine a little child lying on his mother's lap. Fearing nothing, drawing peace from her presence!

The weaned soul also means "quietness" in the face of chaos, those problems again! Isaiah said it, "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." Isaiah 32:17

The weaned soul surely means "contentment," after a whole life of demanding things! That's what a baby does, until he is weaned! Screams and dictates and controls! But all that has changed, even with problems pressing everywhere!

The picture is beautiful!

David did not understand the Problems!

But He did understand that He was in the Hands, in the Lap, in the Heart of Almighty God!

And that was enough!

Jesus first!

I wonder if David had written these words already, or if they still were in his future. "And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him." Psalm 37:40

Wow!

Trusting Him, as a weaned child trusts his Mother!

As I lean upon His great omnipotence, He will help me and deliver me and save me, as just promised!

No wonder "weaned" means "blessed, rewarded, ripened!"

Let's quit screaming and kicking when the problems come!

Let's learn to better trust Him, training our souls to act like weaned children! Both boys and girls.

Job could have learned this lesson! If he had, the Book of Job would not have had 42 chapters, either! Maybe 4 or 5 only!

Naomi did lean this lesson. When her problems hit! She lost her family, as did Job. Job talked and argued and defended! Naomi trusted the Lord, going back to Bethlehem! Acting like a weaned child!

Oh, one more thing.

God's specific Name, the "Almighty," is represented in Hebrew by the word "shaddai." It is believed by many Hebrew teachers that the root noun "shad" means "breast!"

God Almighty is the Lord Who gives us satisfaction and contentment and nourishment and delight, much like Mom did when we were younger, at her breast.

God's Breast!

Yet as we've just seen, eventually, every child must be weaned!

Still, even after weaning, the Parent is still there!

No milk now, but love and support and affirmation await, and from the very same One who brought us into this world.

My soul, like a weaned child!

Your soul too!

Beautiful!

Like the old song writer said, "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus!"

Amen!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7, OTHERS:

The last verse in Psalm 131 gets directly to the point.

After testing and validating his own godliness, his own humility, David the Psalmist prays for His nation, for Israel.

This prayer completes a pattern too, an often repeated Biblical paradigm.

Right living is never an end in itself!

I am not to be "good" just for my own sake!

I am to "do right" for the benefit of someone else too!

That Person may be the Lord God Who saved me, a "vertical" emphasis.

Or the beneficiary may be more "horizontal," a brother or sister in Christ or a family member even.

Let me illustrate.

Here's the vertical situation, an example.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

The disciples of Jesus were to do right, not simply for their own sakes, but to glorify their Father in Heaven!

He is above us, vertically so.

Then comes John 17:19, still with Jesus speaking. Watch why our Lord has "sanctified Himself."

"And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth."

Jesus is dedicated, pure, consecrated, so that His brethren, His followers, His little children, can live such lives too!

They lived beside our Lord, and all around Him, horizontally.

Wow!

Our Text, Psalm 131, "fits" the pattern!

Personal godliness, followed by benefit to someone else.

"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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever."

The "personal godliness" portion I've colored red.

The "benefiting others" part is green, since it's Christmas!

I hope you see what I'm trying to say.

Let's focus on our short pericope today, that last verse. "Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever." Psalm 131:3

It's a prayer, really.

One observation must be this. If the people of a land are humble, godly, sold-out to the Lord, enough people, the whole nation will consequently be that way!

All a Nation is, her very character, simply totals what her people are!

If David "hopes" and "trusts" in the Lord, and enough of David's compatriots, so must Israel as a whole.

If God had found as many as fifty righteous people in Sodom, the whole pace would have been spared!

Live for God, for America's sake!

And those of you who live elsewhere, put your Country's name in the blank. For Canada's sake, or wherever.

Then too the verb "hope" must be examined. "Yachal" means "to wait, to expect, to trust," a term of reverence and worship.

David, like a newly weaned child, is passively trusting in the Lord. He longs for Israel to do the same, expressed as "hoping" in her God!

The God Who allowed the problem to come, can also remove it!

The God Who took away that blessing, can return it if He so chooses!

Job understood this. "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Job 1:21

That's hoping in the Lord, trusting Him explicitly!

A weaned baby only knows one person to trust, even if something precious has been taken away lately, the very "milk" he has enjoyed for a lifetime! And that person is His Parent!

His "Mom" in our Psalm's case, verses 1 and 2.

But this Mother is a clear picture of the Lord God Almighty, in a loose sense anyway.

A baby just must trust its Mom, even when she's just "weaned" him or her. So must Israel, and every other nation too, learn to look to God for everything, "understood or not understood!"

David, who may not be a king yet, is still concerned about others!

Let's pray. Seriously, I'm praying now. For you and for me. Bible Class has now become a prayer meeting.

"Lord, make us holy."

"For Thy Glory!"

"And then make us more holy."

"For the sake of those around us!"

"In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Yes!

Paul lived this way. "Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you." Philippians 4:9

Be sure of this. Others are watching us today, just like people watched Paul. Perhaps not as many people, but someone is watching. Probably more folks than we realize.

Say it again, Paul. "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ." 1st Corinthians 11:1, amazing!

One last time, Psalm 131. See if you can "picture" a little child, resting on his Mother's lap, quietly and hopefully looking into her eyes!

That's David's idea of trust and hope and quiet expectation!

Trusting Jesus!

"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. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever."

Psalm 131, let's not forget it.

Especially when the "hard" times come, when we face "great matters" and "things too high" for us!

Jesus more than once extolled the virtues of "little children." He would say, "Except ye become as little children ...."

David has prefigured that metaphor in Psalm 131.

Leaning on our Lord, believing Him and loving Him and knowing Him, like a child does his Mother!

What a challenge!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

                              Psalm 131, what a passage of Scripture!

 

 

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