A Composed and Quiet Soul Hopes in the Lord
If you had to paint a picture of trust and tranquility, what would it look like? A father and son fishing from a boat on a glass-smooth lake? A baby sleeping in a mother's arms? It is likely that each of us would come up with a different image. It would depend on what we each relate to, and on what we are looking for. And who would not want to have a place in the ideal picture of peace and quiet?
Psalm 131 contains a vignette of a composed and tranquil soul. What follows is a meditation on this picture and clues on how we can develop the trust in The Lord that leads to composure and confident quietude.
Though it is a short song of trust, Psalm 131 implies a depth of experience that comes from a long walk with The Lord. The superscript identifies it as "A Songs of Ascents, of David." David was a person of deep spiritual experience, who had a strong relationship with God.
The psalmist begins by addressing The Lord: "O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty." His opening, and the words that follow, indicate an intimacy that comes with deep spiritual experience. He speaks, knowing The Lord will understand and accept his confession. We do not know what has happened in his life, but it is cause for reflection on his reliance upon, and humility before, The Lord, the ever- present existing One. God knows it all before we tell Him; our acknowledgement, "getting it off our chest," helps us to find peace and resolution. We can trust Him, He understands. We can find peace in talking to Him.
The heart of the psalmist, the centre of his soul, is not proud. It is not filled with the presumptuous pride that seeks independence, or worse, equality with God, or superiority. His eyes are not "haughty," or "lofty." They are not set above their proper plane to look at things beyond their grasp. They are content to let those things out of reach go by. Is our world not filled with millions of eye-catching images hoping to trap our affections? We can let these things go by and trust The Lord for even better things, things that last.
The last two lines of verse one expand on the tranquil humility of a heart right with The Lord:
Or in things too difficult for me.
Notice in verse two what role our poet has to play in his peace: "Surely I have composed and quieted my soul." The word for composing can literally mean "make even, flat, uniform, or lay out smoothly." "Quieted" can also mean "silenced," "stilled," implying tranquility.
Notice who is doing the composing and quieting. Yes, it is the person, not God. This person seems at a distance from his soul; he can work on it. We have an important part to play in humility. God commands it; with His help we must humble ourselves: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time" (1 Peter 5:6). We are responsible for not allowing our feathers to get too ruffled. How? By trusting Him, turning it over to Him, patiently waiting for Him. It takes practice.
Next, we are given a beautiful picture:
My soul is like a weaned child within me.
Good things are worth sharing. The psalmist wants his kinsmen to share what he has found:
From this time forth and forever.
We can only share what is ours. Through practice, we make hope and trust ours. We keep our hearts humble. We look to God's affairs. We cultivate a smooth and tranquil soul: "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life" (1 Thessalonians 4:11b); we pray for leaders ". . . in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity" (1 Timothy 2:2b). We rest in The Lord. We trust in Him for the blessings of a composed and quiet soul. We hope in Him, now and forever.