Do me a favor and please read Psalm 131.
Once again we are reminded of how our lives, our faith, and our living must be “child-like” (similar to Matthew 19:14) – which has always been a source of contention for adults. I’ve lost count on how many sermon’s I’ve heard over the years or references to this text and they all seem scattered. And for some reason I always wonder if Jesus is including the little kid who is having a temper tantrum – or only the little ones that are on their best behavior…at that moment. But this text, as well as the above mentioned one, isn’t about our emotional outbursts and how we should be like children who don’t get their way. On the other hand, we are to learn from the little ones in how they trust and have hope in their parent (Lord knows adults easily get emotional and lose it just like children).
This “song of ascent” is ascribed to David and while we don’t know when or under what context and circumstance he penned it we do see that while reflective it is challenging in nature. David speaks of not things he has never done but instead draws upon his lessons learned SO THAT he can use it to encourage his fellow Israelites as they ascend up to Jerusalem. It’s about understanding and living into the hope and grace of God (vs 3). It’s about humility and trust (vs 1). It’s about patience and leaning in, and upon, God. It’s about remembering that we are a child of God and dependent on all that he is – just as a child is dependent on their mother. But as we read this we get the sense that at some point David had to come to this realization too. That while he may NOW be “content” that probably wasn’t always the case.
As we read through this psalm, you may or may not have picked up on this (I know for me it took a few passes) but all the things David speaks of have to do with internal expressions. Pride, being haughty, concern with great matters that are way out of one’s knowledge – all those things are internal actions. It’s a trust and hope in things within you or that you can work through and figure out – and the response is usually within as well. But hope (the last thing David speaks of)? While it’s internally done it’s externally focused. It’s an internally decided action that focuses and puts trust outside itself. Even MORE SO this “hope” we get in verse 3 is VERY different than all the rest because IT focuses on a calm and not a storm within.
Maybe it’s just me but having pride, being haughty, concerned with things that are beyond and outside of my control seem to always lead to storms within. And yet when I’ve let go of these things and resolved to simply put my trust and hope in God, for a miraculous reason, all the weight, worry, and squalls in my life seem to become feathery light, free from concern, and as calm as a glassy lake. Ironic then that David is encouraging Israel to steer clear from worries, pride, and concerns and focus their hope on God both now and forevermore? Not at all.
But I’m stuck on this “hope” thing (vs 3)…
Our two kids are observant and pick up on things easily. And the more my wife and I talk it seems like the more they are listening. And because of the hearts that our kids have they are always willing to help. But beyond that they also feed off of concerns and “adult” things when my wife and I are trying to have an adult conversation (we clearly need to have more talks OUTSIDE the home when our kids are not around). And inevitably one of them wants to offer up money (if it’s a financial conversation), or they ask more questions about it and even begin having concerns that weigh heavy. And our response? “Don’t worry about that. We’ll take care of it.” The concerns and conversations are not meant for the shoulders or the worries of a 10 and 14 year old. It’s meant for the parent. It is our concern, our worry, and our ability to work through it and figure it out. It’s a weight WE are to burden and address. I think THAT is why we are to hope in God.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
David learned a lesson at some point in his life that taking on the worries of God was not healthy and even viable. That our lives are chaotic enough and the last thing we need to do is worry about things that we cannot control or even fix. And God? Well, he wants us to come to him with our prayers, supplications, needs, help, joys, and anything else. But more than anything he wants us to see that we can trust him, lean upon him, and place every ounce of our hope in him. There are so many things in this world that could consume us if we allowed it. And there is so much more in this life that is outside of our own control and yet our minds and hearts yearn to fix it. So what do we do when life is what it is? We hope. Because our hope is in a God of promises. Our hope is in the God of the cross who pays for our sins and sets us right with God. Our hope is in the God who saves the lost, holds the whole world in his hands, and doesn’t allow anything in this world to happen without his knowledge and will. Our hope is in the Alpha and the Omega, Beginning and the End, who rights the wrongs and fixes all the rest of this. So why not hope in him today and forevermore? The alternative is clearly a complete mess.
So hope in God. It’s really a simple lesson and yet it takes a whole lifetime to learn.