March 27, 2020 by John Mangrum
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
Psalm 131 has been called “the song of the contented.” What a remarkable gift it would be to be able to “calm and quiet” ourselves when the world around us feels out of control. David compares his state of contentment to “a weaned child with his mother.” This is a contentment that is only found on the other side of frustration, unrequited demand, and loss. It is a contentment that is only possible when a child finally accepts that the thing he believes he must have will not be given to him. And it is a contentment that requires him to receive his mother’s love and care in a way that he doesn’t fully understand and he never sought out.
Reaching this place of calm and quiet has required more of David than just deep breathing exercises, long walks, or the visualization of a “happy place.” Instead, it has required that he confront stubborn demands within his own heart. He states that his “heart is not proud” and his “eyes are not haughty.” He has come to understand that pride is the enemy of contentment, with its sense of entitlement, its demands for more, and the judgmental attitudes that so often accompany it.
David has also learned to let go of the demand that he understand, obtain, or achieve things that are beyond his reach. His path to contentment has required an acceptance of his limits; to accept that some things that deeply affect him (“great matters or things too wonderful”) lie beyond his control and understanding. This is not to say that he has learned to just settle for less; rather that he has redirected much of his hope for fulfillment and satisfaction away from his own plans, his own control, and his own understanding and has instead placed his hope in the Lord to meet those needs, both now and in the future. Like David, contentment does not require a denial of desire, but it does require that we release our demand for more. It requires a choice to calm and quiet ourselves in the face of a world that will remind us often of the limits of our control and understanding. I think there is value in taking some deep breaths or going for long walks when things begin to feel out of control but to do so while also reflecting upon the truth that we are not alone and that all we need and long for will never be obtained by our efforts alone. Instead, like a weaned child with his mother, we can eventually grow to enjoy and find comfort in our heavenly Father’s presence, care and protection in a way that we had not even imagined previously.