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God’s Word for You

Psalm 131:1-3 Like a child that was just nursed

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, December 21, 2019

A song of ascents. Of David.

A baby has just finished feeding and is sleeping quietly on its mother’s breast. This is a picture of serene peace that is unmistakable, and transfers without explanation into any and every language. Such is the peace David feels in his soul because, and only because, his hope is in the Lord. This Psalm is really an outpouring of emotion that teaches the nature of faith in a single image. If God’s Word were a vast temple filled with imagery depicted in films, tableaus, live-action dramas, paintings and sculptures, this little Psalm would be like a small stained-glass window in the mother’s nursery above the rocking chair. It is a single scene that teaches a single point. This makes it a parable: The one who has faith in Christ is like a fed child sleeping upon its mother.

1 My heart is not proud, O LORD,
  my eyes are not haughty;
  I do not step into matters too great
  or too wonderful for me.
2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
  like a child that was just nursed rests upon its mother,
  like a child that was just nursed is my soul that rests within me.
3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD
  both now and in eternity.

The “matters too great” are God’s wonderful acts. David says something very similar in Psalm 139:5-6, “You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” And Job said: “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know” (Job 42:3). Something very similar is in the Great Psalm: “Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them” (Psalm 119:129). And the song of Moses in Revelation says: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty” (Revelation 15:3). These are not fawning claims that all of God’s divine thoughts are beyond us, which is most certainly true. Such things are hardly worth stating, similar to “the sun is bright” or the night is dark. No, each of these passages is simply the confession that grace itself, the working of God’s love in our lives, is beyond our comprehension. Why am I saved? Because God loves me. Why does God love me? Because he says he does. But why? I do not know, but he says he does, and he does not lie. Is it something in me? Am I worthy in some way? Is it that ‘somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good’? Not at all. I am unworthy of God’s love, but the greatness of his love and the blessing of his gospel is that he loves me simply because he loves me.

Therefore, I am like a weaned child resting upon its mother. The word translated “weaned” is gamul. The basic meaning of this word is “to deal fully.” While it can mean “wean” in the context of a baby (Genesis 21:8; Hosea 1:8), here it more probably means to finish nursing a baby so that it is contented. This happens many times every day for an infant and David delights that it is the true life of the believer. Our contented rest, with no worries or cares, but only true in Christ, is the rest we will have in eternity, forevermore.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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