The Expository Files

"My Heart is Not Proud"

Psalms 131


1 My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.


Some claim this passage expresses David's attitude of submission at the time he actually became king. Others think this was written in the time of the Jews' captivity, telling of the humility they learned in that ordeal. In either case, this text illustrates the submissive temper and humility that should be present in the heart of every child of God - that will produce contentment, peace, hope and cause us to behave in a manner that pleases the Lord.

The first statement in verse one should be the sincere confession of every child of God - "My heart is not proud."

Consider the heart. If we only had Proverbs and Psalms we would have sufficient information about what the heart is. Repeatedly, in Proverbs and Psalms we are told what the heart is and how the heart functions. We have statements like Prov. 4:23 ...

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

You may be more familiar with this translation of that verse:
"Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." The heart is that part of the inner man which is the source and center of every attitude, word and deed. All that we are is determined by the content of our hearts.

When I was in the Army in basic training there was this exercise called BIVOUAC ... about 14 days out in the woods under simulated combat conditions. At the campsite there would be these huge water bags hanging from a tree or pole. Around the bottom of the bag, several outlet tubes; you would put one of those tubes into your canteen and release a value to replenish your water supply.

Now the mess sergeant who was in charge of this would put a huge salt tablet inside the water bag; this was at Ft. Benning Georgia in July, so you had to have salt tablets to prevent heat exhaustion. The salt was put in the source - so it didn't matter which tube you used to fill your canteen, all the water that came from that bag had salt in it.

Whatever you put in your heart (the source) affects every issue of life (every outlet)! Because your heart is the source and center of all your life. If I put something impure in my heart, I have polluted the source!! If I put something pure in my heart, I have purified the source!! So in the NIV at Prov. 4:23 ...

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Now, if we will put the good things of God into our hearts - if we  will put the Word of God and the Son of God into our hearts, our hearts will not be proud; our eyes will not be haughty. If I'm a Christian and the Word of God abides in me - this will be my confession: My heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. You cannot have God's Word in your heart, and be haughty at the same time. The heart is the source. If the Word of God is there, the source is pure and right and produces what is pure and right. Every Christian should be able to say, "Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty." And this humble disposition of faith produces the best kind of contentment.

Now we are still in verse 1, and in my judgment, the next phrase is also related to what we have already studied:

I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

There is a temptation we may encounter here on the earth; or we may observe this in others - I'm talking about an ambition to occupy ourselves with things which are beyond our reach. Now when I say that I'm going against the grain of modern culture. The world says, Nothing is beyond our reach.

The New Age spirit of Humanism (that has such power over the academic world and the media) sends the message that man can do anything he wants to do. The Bible teaches - there are things we shouldn't do or be concerned about; there are matters beyond our reach.

If I do not accept this, I waste a lot of time and energy laboring to find answers not intended for me ... studying, debating and bothering myself over matters that belong to God, that I don't need to know! In those things revealed to us and for us, there is enough for us to read and study and do! If I'll just limit myself to that which God has revealed, that I need to understand and believe and do - there will be no time left to try and find answers which are not revealed!!

Pulpit Commentary is right when it speaks of "...our temptation ... to long and to labor for that which is beyond our capacity, for which we were not created and endowed, which would exalt us, but which we should not adorn."

For example, folks want to know all about angels and demons. So, you bring up every passage; you present everything the Bible says; you limit yourself to what is revealed about angels and demons. But some are not satisfied; they want to know more --- so they ask probing questions, raise hypothetical matters and engage in some lengthy debate that is entirely subjective, and that has no good spiritual purpose.

On any subject - simple, complex; practical or mysterious - when you have examined everything God has revealed ... THAT'S IT; you have to leave it alone.

Now I believe all of this in Psalms 131 is connected, is related ... so let me make this observation. If I have the humility illustrated in the first part of this passage - I will not wear myself out with matters beyond my capacity. If my heart is not haughty and my eyes are not lofty ... I will not exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me!

If you ever want a passage in the Bible that forbids INTELLECTUAL ARROGANCE, this is that passage! Those who are awed and captivated by scholars; those without overall Bible knowledge, but they always bring up one or two questions that sound profound ... Those who shirk the simple principles of character taught in the Bible - and who would rather debate the deep theological issues ... They are guilty of intellectual arrogance - and it is a product of PLAIN OLD  ARROGANCE.

We need to keep arrogance out of our hearts, and pride away from our eyes - so that we will not have this vain ambition for the deep and great matters that the elite debate about. If the Word of God lives within me, my heart is not haughty; my eyes not lofty and ... And do not concern myself with great matters, into which I have
no access anyway.

In verse 2 ...

But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

The humility emphasized in this passage will keep us from the vain ambition that fuels intellectual arrogance; but this humility will also still and quiet the soul! Here is real contentment.

Notice, "a weaned child." The ordinary process of weaning a child will involve some disappointment or pain for the child; but that distress is temporary. Once the child is weaned there is contentment ... a product of trust in the mother. I used to read this and think about a baby in the process of being weaned, but I now see that's not it. This is about a child who has been through that process - IS NOW WEANED, and as a result of the process - there is this contentment, this satisfaction of trust.

The child knows it will still be fed. The child has learned that the mother will still be there. The weaned child illustrates contentment, satisfaction and peace - all products of trust. When I really have the humility of heart this passage describes ... I am able to trust in God so completely and so deeply - I have the contentment and peace of a weaned child.

I think that's what this is about. And I think there is not one person in the EF readership who doesn't need to read this and believe this. When I really have the humility of heart this passage describes - I am able to trust in God so completely and so deeply, I have the contentment and peace of a weaned child. If I have that - my eyes will not be haughty, and I will not concern myself with matters not revealed ... things too profound for me anyway!!

Then this ...

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

Well, we just add something else to the spirit of this passage and the practical influence of it. We add hope. Here it is again -- When I really have the humility of heart this passage describes - I am able to trust in God so completely and so deeply, I have the contentment and peace of a weaned child ... and with this disposition in me, I will not hesitate to hope in the Lord, "both now and forever more."

Finally I want to say this - What some people have, that they call "contentment" is not this kind of contentment, reflected in this passage! What some people have is a temporary respite from stress - based on something temporal, and they call it contentment. What many have is a "contentment" based on environment, social life, money, romance, popularity or sensuality --- that's nothing but a short term respite from despair, based on something earthly.

This passage speaks to real, long-lasting contentment, based on humility before God. David learned this in his experience with God, just like Paul learned it and wrote in Phil. 4:11, " I have learned ... to be content." We can learn this contentment; we can have this contentment, but it begins with the Word of God in our hearts - producing the humility described in this text.

Isaac Watts wrote a hymn based on the 131st Psalm, that was never published in musical format so far as I know; here it is ...

Humility and submission

Is there ambition in my heart?. Search, gracious God, and see; Or do I act a haughty part? Lord, I appeal to thee. I charge my thoughts, be humble still, And all my carriage mild, Content, my Father, with thy will, And quiet as a child. The patient soul, the lowly mind, Shall have a large reward: Let saints in sorrow lie resigned, And trust a faithful Lord.

Trust a faithful Lord, first, by coming to Him in obedience. Then let His word live in your heart and produce the contentment you long for.

 By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 7.2; February 2000


 

 

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