King David was the highest authority in the land, overseeing a small, yet powerful nation. His responsibility was great and his tasks were endless. Internally, he had to both ensure the peace and unity of his palace and his country. Backstabbing, deceit, and insurrection were common among the ruling elites of Israel and David had to manage it all with wisdom and confidence. On a national level, his responsibility was to unite the diverse and often disconnected tribes which constituted the nation of Israel. On top of all that, there were the constant wars and skirmishes being fought on the borders against enemy nations.
David was an important man and a busy man. And that is what makes Psalm 131 all the more remarkable. David does not allow his high status as a king to puff up his heart and make him proud.
“My heart is not lifted up.
My eyes are not raised too high.
I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.”Psalm 131:1
When people occupy important positions, or have the desire to do so, it is easy for them to get consumed by pride, and preoccupied with keeping up the appearance of being the one who knows more than everyone else. When people are building or maintaining the identity of an important person, they tend to project themselves as the smartest person in the room. They scurry about night and day trying to control things beyond their control and understanding.
But David doesn’t do this. He is confident in his calling as the LORD’s king and in his identity as a sinner saved by grace. As a result of his secure identity he does not need to fret and worry and busy himself with things too great to understand or control.
David, the royal king, even stoops down to compares himself to a child with its mother.
“But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.“Psalm 131:2
David can be still and quiet his soul in all the chaos and commotion of palace life because he knows that before Almighty God he is but a small, finite being. He is as a little child in the arms of her mother, in complete trust and peace.
There is no doubt David did not have this sense of calm and peace at every point in his life; look no further then the sad episode with Bathsheba wherein David anxiously tries to control his world in order to cover up an egregious sin. But throughout his life David, more often than not, was able to see himself from God’s perspective, and that enabled him to quiet his soul and rest in the love and sovereignty of his God.
In the hustle and bustle of our lives it can be hard to do what David learned to do; to quiet our souls, to lay all our questions and worries to the side in the knowledge that God is in control, and to lean into the loving sovereignty of our God. It is a challenge to say to ourselves: there is so much going on in the world, so much I don’t understand, so much on my plate, but I am going to stop and be still. I’m going to quiet my soul and let the hope that I have in Jesus Christ take over my thoughts and invade my heart.
It is not easy to do, but it is necessary. So we have David and Psalm 131 to guide us in the necessary discipline of calming our souls and resting in the loving arms of our Sovereign God.