Monday, March 2, 2015

How to retain inner peace with God - Psalm 131

Psalm 131:1-3 - "O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;Nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. 2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. 3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever."

Today's post will begin with a great quote from great Baptist Preacher Charles Spurgeon in his "Treasury of David" on Psalm 131 ( "It is both by David and of David: he is the author and the subject of it, and many incidents of his life may be employed to illustrate it. Comparing all the Psalms to gems, we should liken this to a pearl: how beautifully it will adorn the neck of patience. It is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn. It speaks of a young child, but it contains the experience of a man in Christ. Lowliness and humility are here seen in connection with a sanctified heart, a will subdued to the mind of God, and a hope looking to the Lord alone happy is the man who can without falsehood use these words as his own; for he wears about him the likeness of his Lord, who said, "I am meek and lowly in heart." The Psalm is in advance of all the Songs of Degrees which have preceded it; for loveliness is one of the highest attainments in the divine life. There are also steps in this Song of Degrees: it is a short ladder, if we count the words; but yet it rises to a great height, reaching from deep humility to fixed confidence. Le Blanc thinks that this is a song of the Israelites who returned from Babylon with, humble hearts, weaned from their idols. At any rate, after any spiritual captivity let it be the expression of our hearts."

This Psalm is found in a collection of 15 Psalms spanning from Psalm 120-134 which are termed "Psalms of Ascent". The idea of these Psalms is to take the reader on a journey with the Lord from having been faraway and in exile to being reunited in fellowship with Him. Themes such as spiritual growth. maturity, struggle, worship and other ingredients found in the Christian's desire to walk closer to God are found in these Psalms. Unless you have been by grace through faith made right with God through Jesus Christ, there can be no peace in the soul. As Romans 5:1 reminds us - "Therefore, having been justified by faith,we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." In Psalm 131 we find three ways in which we can retain inner peace with God. Please notice....

1. Remember God (in the midst of busyness)
The Psalmist writes in Psalm 131:1  "O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty;Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me." Notice the first two words "O Lord". The name for God used here is the Covenant name "Yahweh". As the Psalmist list out the many things that could distract and lead his mind away from God, He makes sure He mentions God first. The name "Yahweh" evokes memories in scripture such as the time He first revealed this most personal of names to Moses in Exodus 3, or when God as Yahweh appeared to His people throughout the Old Testament in times of difficulty or making promises. Such thoughts could certainly be recalled to one's memory, which is why it is so vital to apply oneself to the study of scripture so as to rehearse all the great things Yahweh has done and desire to do. 

Whenever we keep the greatness of God (Yahweh) before us, everything else is placed in its proper perspective. We will recognize that there is no height or exploit greater than God, and thus avoid pride. There are matters that can be too difficult for us, but not God. Remembering God enables the child of God to retain inner peace with Him. But notice what the Psalmist writes next...

2. Depend on God. Psalm 131:2
Psalm 131:2 reads - "Surely I have composed and quieted my soul;Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me." I can remember when each of our children went from the bottle to eating baby food. At first they would fight and fuss, wanting the bottle. But then there came a point when the fighting and fussing would cease, and the child would "settle down" and be content with eating solid food. The child found its rest in depending upon their parents and realizing that the food they had placed in front of them would fill their stomachs. Soon, after each of our children ate, nap time would come (for both baby and parent!)

This imagery of "weaning a child" speaks volumes on the necessary link between depending on God and spiritual maturity. The irony of spiritual maturity is that in dependence on God do I then achieve the ability to stand. Hebrews 5:14 states - "But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil." Then we read in 1 Peter 5:6-7 "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you." So inner peace with God is found by remembering God and depending upon Him. Now notice lastly what the Psalmist has to say with regards to finding inner peace with God....

3. Hope in God. Psalm 131:3
We read in Psalm 131:3 - "O Israel,hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever." Do you see the progression of thought in this Psalm that enables inner peace with God: "Remember God"; "Depending on God" and "Hope in God"? All three are as a three-braided rope. Throughout scripture we are told to hope in God. (example: Psalm 42-43) Jesus Himself in Colossians 1:27 is described as being in the Christian: "Christ in you, the hope of glory". I'm reminded of the old hymn that goes: "My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus' blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name."

Closing thoughts
Today we considered how to retain inner peace with God in Psalm 131. We considered the following three thoughts: Remember God (131:1); Depend on God (131:2) and Hope in God (131:3). 

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