Psalms of Ascents: Psalm 131

The Psalms of Ascent are a set of fifteen psalms that were traditionally sung as priests entered the temple, and Jews journeyed to the Holy Land to celebrate the Passover Festival. They offer hope, encouragement, and peace in a time of uncertainty. Today we will read and discuss Psalm 131, the twelfth psalm in the psalms of ascents, and third by David.

Psalm 131 is three little verses, the shortest Psalm in the Psalms of Ascents, but it certainly isn’t lacking in wisdom. The third authored by David, Psalm 131 talks about pride and arrogance, humility and reverence, contentment and calling, and the significance of the heart and eyes. 

Psalm 131

A song of ascents. Of David.
 
1 My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
 
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

Significance of the Heart in the Bible

Fun fact: The heart is mentioned in scriptures 826 times, whereas the brain is never mentioned. Why is the heart so significant?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

Everything we do, whether good or evil, is an overflow of our heart. A heart in love with the Lord will pour out goodness, whereas a heart in love with one’s self will pour out evil.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

Jesus warns us in Matthew where our treasure should be – not of earthly things that will disappear, but on things in heaven, things that are eternal.

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.

Proverbs 16:9

He went on: “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”

Mark 7:20-23

Our hearts determine how we live our lives. Jesus tells us that from the same heart that can overflow with love, evil can pour forth. Our hearts determine our path, and that can be the path of obedience in the Lord, or the path of disobedience and pride.

Significance of the Eyes in the Bible

The heart is the guiding force for our lives, but our eyes are the lamps of our bodies.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6:22-23

Jesus is the Light of the World, and His light will shine in us and through us if we keep our eyes on Him.

We have seen other references to the eyes in the psalms we’ve studied in the Psalms of Ascents series

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.

Psalm 123:1-2

Where we look for instruction, guidance, and wisdom is important. Our Maker is the Truth and the Light, and will never lead us astray. 

If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we cannot fail. 

Pride and Arrogance v. Humility

David writes in Psalm 131 that his heart is not proud, meaning he is not seeking self-importance, but humbling himself to the call of the Lord on his life. 

Jesus provides us with what true humility looks like.

When he [Jesus] had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?”he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

John 13:12-17

Jesus is the epitome of humility. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet He lowered Himself to that of a lowly servant by washing the feet of His disciples. 

He was born in a humble manger, died on a humble cross, and lived a humble life of servitude to others. 

Living like Christ means living humbly, serving others more than we serve ourselves. When we serve others, we have the opportunity to show them what Christ is like.

David also writes in Psalm 131 that his eyes are not haughty, or arrogant. Arrogance is a different type of pride, one in which we not only look out for ourselves, but we look down on others. 

When we are looking down on others, we are unable to look up to the One who created us. When we elevate ourselves above God and others, we enter a dangerous place in which sin will consume us and darkness prevails.

Contentment in our Calling

David tells us in Psalm 131 that he doesn’t concern himself with things “too wonderful for me”. He is content in the place the Lord has called him to be.

We are all called to do different things, and the Lord equips us for our calling. When we seek to be more than God called us to be, we enter a place of pride and arrogance.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:6-8

To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues...And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-31

God equips us all with different gifts, and they all work together for His glory, not our own. When we finally reach a place of contentment with our calling, we can live a life of peace and grow in our relationship with Him.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13

Growing in Spiritual Maturity

As Ephesians 4 tells us, when we use the gifts that God has given us, we will grow in faith, knowledge, and maturity, “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”. 

David compares himself to a child weaned from his mother in Psalm 131 as a symbol of contentment and spiritual maturity.

When a child is weaned from its mother, its relationship shifts from one of complete dependence, where the child wants to be with its mother in order to be fed, to one of desire, where the child wants to be with its mother out of love.

Let our relationship with Christ grow in such a way that we desire a relationship with Him because we love Him.

Tuning our hearts and eyes to God helps us seek contentment in our calling, and grow in our relationship with Him.

2 Peter sums it up this way:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:3-11

We have everything we need from God’s power. We just need to stay attuned to our Creator, allowing the Holy Spirit to help us grow in spiritual maturity, so that we do not become blind, which will lead others astray as well as ourselves. Doing these things will keep us from entering a life of sin and instead, we “will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. 

Each day, from March 23-April 6, 2020, I will be live on Instagram reading and discussing each of the fifteen psalms of ascents. I want to encourage you to join me.

Also, take a moment each day for your own study. Write the psalms (they’re all relatively short), and dig into God’s Word. That is where we will find peace.

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The Psalms of Ascent are a set of fifteen psalms that were traditionally sung as priests entered the temple, and Jews journeyed to the Holy Land to celebrate the Passover Festival. They offer hope, encouragement, and peace in a time of uncertainty. Today we will read and discuss Psalm 131, the twelfth psalm in the psalms of ascents, and the third by David.

MEET KIRSTEN

I'm Kirsten & I'm happy you're here! Sweet Tea & Saving Grace supports women seeking to find balance in the busy, deepen their faith, and instill joy and love in their homes, lives, and blogs by providing encouraging and inspiring content and valuable resources. My prayer is for you to leave here better than when you came. Be blessed!

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