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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.