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 and quieted myself,
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.
Have you ever heard a newborn baby’s cry for milk? There are not many sounds in the world that are as disconcerting. It is jarring and is meant to be. The mother can be warming up the milk, or preparing herself to nurse, yet a newborn will continue to scream when he is hungry until he is fed. An infant hasn’t learned to trust that his mother will feed him. He believes he must squirm, fuss, and cry to be fed. He is the picture of agitated, restless anxiety. Do his screams produce the milk? No, he is trying to control something that he absolutely cannot control. A baby is powerless to feed himself. His anxious wailings are an attempt to concern himself with things that are beyond his control, as David points out in this psalm.
By the time a child is weaned and eating solid food, they have learned to trust their parents to feed them. They smell food cooking and know they will be fed when it is dinner time. The King James Version of Psalm 131 translates the word “calmed” in verse two as “behaved.” This gives us the picture of a child who has learned assurance and self-control; they trust their mother to feed them, and that gives them peace and contentment.
David shows us how to trust in the Lord with a calm and quiet soul. It requires humility to trust our heavenly Father the way a weaned child trusts his mother. There cannot be arrogance or superiority when we acknowledge we control nothing and that we are totally unable to provide for ourselves. Humility is accepting our place as a dependent child. God alone can and will provide. Believing that we are solely responsible for producing good in our lives, or in the lives of those we love, breeds anxiety and discontent.
Another metaphor comparing people with babies was used by the Apostle Paul. He said it is only mature, or spiritual, people who can be fed with solid food, “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready” (1 Cor. 3:1-2).
In the verses immediately prior, Paul explained that spiritually mature people live by the Spirit and have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:6-16). They are able to interpret and discern truth by the Spirit. These are people who know that the things God is planning for them are too wonderful – too great for them to even imagine (Psalm 131: 1b). They are no longer infants because they live dependent on the Spirit and with the mind of Christ. It is the juxtaposition of the Kingdom of God; to think of oneself as independent is to be as an infant, but to know one’s dependence on God is to be mature. The mature do not try to control things by their own power or interpret things with their fleshly wisdom. They know they must live as weaned children of their Father – without pride, without hubris – knowing they can do all things through Christ and no things without him.
The spiritual people of Psalm 131 and 1 Corinthians 2-3 are calm and content, completely dependent on God for fleshly provision (food, clothing, shelter) and spiritual provision (discernment, wisdom, power). They do not mistakenly believe that they are producing revelation in their own strength (Eph.1:17). Their lives are spent resting in the satisfaction of dependence on the Spirit of God and hope in him for everything they need. These weaned children have learned that without the mind of Christ, everything in the spirit realm is foolishness to them – salvation, sanctification, discernment, our gifts, the power of God. The natural person (1 Cor. 2:14) cannot accept or understand the things of God. The spiritual person is content, not striving to understand things of God from a natural viewpoint, and not believing that they produce their own spirituality. They trust the Holy Spirit alone to give them understanding of and faith for the “things freely given to us by God” (I Cor. 2:12).
Peace, contentment, unity, love, and trust are found when our hope is in the LORD.
God is our Father – Jesus called him Father, even Abba – Daddy. He is the Father with no beginning and no end — eternally generating the Son. Yet, he is not a man. “What is God? God is a Spirit and has not a body like men.” Catechism for Young Children: An Introduction to the Shorter Catechism, https://reformed.org/historic-confessions/the-childrens-catechism/, Q.9. So, it is always fun to read similes in the Bible where God is compared to a mother as in Psalm 131. In addition to this Psalm there are others who use similes or metaphors of God as a maternal figure, i.e., Deut. 32:18, Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 66:13, Matt. 23:37.