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. 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. (Psalms 131:1-2 NASB)
In a recent vlog by Ruth Haley Barton, I came across this passage. In my meditation and research, a couple of things stood out. In the first verse, the Psalmist David talks about his freedom from not being preoccupied with things that either lead him to feel arrogant and prideful or things that are effectively “above his pay grade”. We know that one of the root issues of much of our human sinfulness is pride (Prov. 16:18), and one of the antidotes for such sin is honestly and humbly sitting before God’s word and allowing it to shine deeply into our hearts (2 Tim. 3:16). We also know (if were honest) many things for which God simply will not give us a satisfactory answer. We can ask and God invites us to do so (James 4:2b). But we know sometimes God will simply withhold the answer from us. Job discovered this. It is his divine prerogative, as irritating as that is sometimes.
But it’s the second verse I found more intriguing. In particular, I was curious about his use of the phrase “like a weaned child”. Some commentators indicate this word picture isn’t an essential part of the overall interpretation. Honestly, I have a difficult time seeing this phrase as unimportant. An infant still on his mother’s milk goes to the mother because his very survival depends on it. It’s compulsory more than it is voluntary. But it weaned child doesn’t go to his mother for physical survival. If he reclines against his mother, he does so voluntarily to seek solace, comfort, and safety. In essence, he goes there to find rest.
This is the metaphor the Psalmist goes out of his way to use here. It seems highly intentional. The psalmist’s implication is that this is to be the naturally dependent state of our relationship with God. Not compulsory for survival (though this is also true), but voluntarily going to Him to find rest.
Since first meditating on this verse, I’ve sought most days to simply spend five minutes in a comfortable chair in my office attempting to experientially practice this in my quiet time. I literally sit with my head resting against the side of my wing-backed chair, imagining what it would feel like to be a small child resting against him. I admit that, at first, it felt awkward. But more days than not, it has resulted in a more settled approach to my day. It’s challenging me to experience my relationship with God in a more relational, emotionally connected way.
I continue to seek to “let go and let God” hold my problems – and hold me in the process. It feels vulnerable to both experience it with him and to share it with you.
But, then, I guess that’s the point of coming to God as a little child, isn’t it?