Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Psalm 131: Are you weaned?

A song of ascents. Of David.

1 My heart is not proud, LORD,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

2 But I have calmed myself
and quieted my ambitions.
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.

(TNIV)

Eugene Peterson in A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, and Leslie C. Allen in Word Bible Commentary: Psalms 101-150 (see his "explanation" of this psalm), have some helpful words from this psalm.

Spurgeon said that this "is one of the shortest psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn." (Peterson) I understand that when the mother gives her milk to her infant this involves nourishment and bonding. The baby at first is helpless and flailingly dependent on its mother. But as the weaning process goes on the bond between mother and baby grows. What was an infantile dependence is becoming a loving contentment and trust. (Peterson)

Pride and self-ambition begin to decrease as quietness and contentment increase. When the young child is weaned it has learned to rest in its mother's arms with the knowing that she will always be there for it.

This psalm speaks of this weaning as applying to ourselves and God. What kind of faith do we have as God's children? Do we flail away wanting to get our way right away? Or have we learned to rest content, knowing that he is there and will always be there for us?

What about you? What about me? Remember, this lesson is not quickly or easily learned. So we must not despair or give up. We need to learn to rest content in the loving care of the Lord.

4 comments:

Susan said...

Children who are not weaned can become demanding and see mom as the "gimme gimme milk" machine. I know this from an experience with my first child. I remember her toddling up to me and, in front of a group of bible study gals, just flipping up my shirt! We all busted up laughing...but we all knew...it's time to wean this kid! We can get that way with God, too, viewing Him as the "gimme-gimme" God, only coming to Him when we have a need, and flippantly expecting him to comply with our malcontent. A weaned child can rest on mom's lap wanting nothing more than to enjoy the nearness of her heartbeat and the sound of of her voice.

Ted Gossard said...

Thanks Susan for sharing that personal story along with your helpful thoughts.

I think too that often those who never had a good bonding experience with their mothers can especially struggle in their understanding, relating, and experience of God. Another thought, kind of an aside, I guess.

And your last sentence is so true and good.

blessings, Ted

Janet & Seth said...

I really enjoyed this post Ted. This past few months I have wondered if I have been starving to death in an effort to be weaned.

I think the church dynamic as it is expressed at SSVCF has lent itself to us (me) being dependant to the wrong things. I know that sounds critical, but hear me out. Sometimes I sense that I am not "resting" with God, that I have failed to take responsibility for my faithwalk. That I have looked to the Pastor/Leaders/Elders/Icons of the church for the truth unstead of looking to the word of God and asking for discernment. I recognize that I have been like a huge mouth sitting in the pew shouting, "FEED ME! FEEEEEED MEEEE!" And being angry them when I am not satisfied or sated. I know there are some deep systemic problems with this, and I need to repent of my behavior.

Ted Gossard said...

Janet & Seth, thanks for the thoughts.

Misplaced expectations comes to mind as I read your comment. I know what that's like. Maybe that fits what you're saying.

God gives us each other in our faith community to be a mutual blessing. But, as you well say, we must take ownership of our own faith walk and relationship with God. Instead we can think or expect that God is going to get through to us through our pastor or elder or Spirit led person.

I think we'd be more in the mutual blessing stream in community if we work at, and make it our priority to set our own hearts on God, and seek to rest our souls in him. And let come what may as far as what our experience is when we're in community together.

Yes, each member of Christ needs all the others, but for any of us to be blessed and be a blessing we need to work on keeping in contact with our Lord. I have to keep working on that.

Hopefully those words and reminder would help.

blessings on you,
Ted