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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 131

In Psalm 130 we see the fulfillment of the day of atonement for the people of Israel. There is a condition that a person must meet if he will be able to meet the LORD on the day of atonement and that is humility (Lev 23:27-29), for “if there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people” (Lev 23:29).

Psalm 131 is the psalm in which the remnant comes to humility, making them ready for the day of atonement. Psa 131:1-2 are in the first person singular. Humiliation is first and foremost an individual thing. It is something the LORD works in the believer who comes into His presence.

Verses 1-3

Childlike Trust

Of this “Song of Ascents”, the twelfth, the name of its poet is again given: it is a Song of Ascents “of David” (Psa 131:1a).

This psalm connects to the previous one. The heart has come to rest in its relationship with the LORD because there is trust in Him. David is in the presence of the LORD and speaks to Him about his heart, his eyes, and his soul. He says to Him: “My heart is not proud” (Psa 131:1b; cf. Zep 3:11-12).

A person can only say this if he knows that he can only come to the LORD as he is. An encounter with the LORD leads to self-judgment. We see this, for example, in Isaiah (Isa 6:5) and in Peter (Lk 5:8). It is instructive in this context – coming into the presence of God – to compare the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple (Lk 18:9-14).

He who is in self-judgment with God “is not proud”, but broken. He can also say, “nor my eyes haughty”. It is impossible to look God in the eye with haughty eyes. Whoever has haughty eyes cannot be with God (cf. Psa 18:27). Those who are with God do not have haughty eyes and can honestly say so. Eliab, David’s oldest brother, accuses David of having insolence and wickedness in his heart (1Sam 16:6; 1Sam 17:28-29). He completely misjudges David because he himself does not live in the presence of God (cf. 1Cor 2:14-15).

It is not easy for a king like David, who is powerful and rich, not to become proud. We see in him that he has an aversion to pride and haughtiness (Psa 101:5b). His walk is in accordance with his humble mind. Of this he can say to the LORD: “Nor do I involve myself in great matters.” Any grandstanding is foreign to him.

What does someone who is in God’s presence have to boast about? David acknowledges that there are things greater and more wonderful than he can comprehend and which only God knows. He is aware of his futility and limitations. He is anointed king, but goes his way like a hunted partridge on the mountains because he does not want to run ahead of God’s time (1Sam 26:20).

This mind and attitude has composed and quieted his soul (Psa 131:2; cf. Psa 62:1b; 5). This is a weaned child. “Weaned” means that a child is no longer breastfed, even though he is still dependent on his mother. He now comes to rest, not through his mother’s milk, but through his mother herself.

Similarly, the psalmist does not come to rest through the blessings of the Giver, but through the Person of the Giver Himself. That the soul of the psalmist has been brought to rest and to silence is because he comes into the presence of the LORD and feels there like a weaned child with his mother.

What a rest it gives when we no longer have to be concerned with ourselves, with our needs or with our urge to perform, but know that God oversees everything and provides for everything. Then we come to rest with Him, we rest in Him and in His faithfulness. When we can leave all the issues of life to Him, we get rid of the tensions and go our way on earth with the peace of God in our hearts (cf. Phil 4:6-7).

Of this David testifies in Psalm 23. Even if he were to pass through the valley of the shadow of death, he would fear no evil. This is not because of his own strength or bravery, but because he can testify: “For You are with me” (Psa 23:4). The presence of the LORD gave him peace and rest.

David, as king, is a true leader. He also leads the people by being an example to them. He is a shepherd for his people who are called to follow him. Having thus come to rest with God, he exhorts Israel to hope “in the LORD from this time forth and forever” (Psa 131:3). When that hope is alive, there is peace in the soul because he knows that everything is in the hand of God and that He will accomplish His plans.

In the last three Songs of Ascents (Psalms 132-134) this peace shines through. There is no more talk of enemies, nor of distress of soul.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 131". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.