But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever more.
This is a time in our history when many people have found their anxiety to be at an all-time
high, myself included. At the beginning of the quarantine, I realized that my mind was shutting
down emotionally. I wasn’t acknowledging or experiencing emotions in the same way that I
had been previously, and I believed this to be a product of my heightened anxiety. A coping
mechanism, and one that I had recognized in myself before. For months I have looked at this as
a negative thing, something that I should be ashamed of because I wasn’t “correctly”
processing my potential emotions. A lot of terrible things were and still are happening, so why
am I not reacting like everything around me tells me I should be? And then I came to read
Psalm 131, specifically verses 2-3. They read, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a
weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the
Lord from this time forth and forever more.”
Perhaps what I believed to be a potentially harmful coping mechanism was actually the hand of
the Lord protecting me from what would have surely been an overwhelming deluge of
emotions? As my life has settled into a new normal and new routines have begun to form, my
emotions have returned and my mind has “woken up” and is able to process events again.
There has been no delayed reaction, no explosion, no waterfall coming from within me, but
rather an acceptance of things past and a tentative hope for the future. I read this passage and
recognized within myself a similar feeling of a quiet soul. Where once I was upset at my own
inability to conform to emotional norms, I now only have gratitude for the Lord and his love and
goodness in protecting me through the gift of a quieted soul.
Dear Lord, you are the God who formed us. In you we live and move and have our being. Come
shepherd our hearts and quiet our minds as we trust in you our Savior. Amen.
– Ashley Serraglio
“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness. Why do the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear, noses, but they cannot smell; they have hands, but cannot feel, feet, but they cannot walk; nor can they utter a sound with their throats. Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. O house of Israel, trust in the LORD— he is their help and shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the LORD—he is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the LORD— he is their help and shield. The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron, he will bless those that fear the LORD— small and great alike.”
Perhaps you have laughed at a toddler as he proudly shouts out, “Look at me, look at me!” Or maybe you have given doting smiles and hugs to the child who asks, “Do you like it? Did I do good?” (I still smile when remembering how one of my boys would happily say, “Come outside and watch me swing!”) Do our needs for attention and affirmation ever really completely go away?
And here we have the psalmist reminding us: NOT us- but You LORD! May our strongest desires be for God’s glory—and he even tells us why: It’s because of God’s love and God’s faithfulness, not ours. And isn’t that a great thing? We already know we fail—often, while God fails—never!
But what about those big questions we may ask, or be asked by others?
“Where was God when __ happened?” (…Jesus said…and surely I am with you always—Matthew 28:20) “If God is so good, why did He let us sin?” (…God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone—James 1:13) “Why doesn’t God fix all of this?” (…the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world—1 John 4:14)
The psalmist asks yet another, but similar question: “Why do the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” God’s Word answers all of these questions! Even when it seems that God is not there, or that He has failed, this psalm tells us that He does whatever pleases Him—He is always present (omnipresent) and He is always good. (The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. —Psalm 145:9)
We continue reading about the worthlessness of idols made by men, and then worshiped as God! To think that the very gifts and talents given to us by God are used to make replacement gods! Who would do that? Maybe we all do—maybe we are all guilty of trusting in something or someone before turning to the ever-present, good God. We are told there is a rather terrifying consequence: Those who make and trust these idols will become just like them! Do you want to become like the replacement gods we are capable of turning to? Ask our good God to remove your desires for replacement gods and fill you with the victorious desire to be more like our Savior, Jesus. (Be imitators of God…and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us…—Ephesians 5:1,2)
Those needs for attention and affirmation? They are then met and this psalm tells us how! The LORD remembers us and will bless us—-he will bless those who fear him—small and great alike. Praise the LORD!
Lord, thank you for your love and faithfulness. Thank you for your many blessings. Thank you that you continue to work in my heart, forgiving my wanderings and encouraging your straight path. May I welcome the desire to live more like my Savior, Jesus, as I repent of my weakness to run to idols. You are good! Amen.
– Debby Ulle
Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.. Great are the works of the LORD; studied by all who delight in them. Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever. He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
This is such a picture of the work and being of the LORD (all caps LORD=YAHWEH!), and then our response to not only what He has done, but to who He IS. If you know God, you will praise Him! Why? This Psalm, along with many others, tells us why— His works are great, full of splendor (magnificence), majesty (nobility) and righteousness (goodness). It says that God is forever a great and good king! He is deserving of our praise. Do you give it? What about those hard times? What about those things that surround you with fear, or doubt, or loneliness, or even anger? Is it difficult or awkward to praise Him? Do you wonder if you really know Him? Here we are told that God’s works (contained in His Word) are to be studied—and He has made sure that they are remembered.
Let’s take a minute to study.
- Praising in the hard times? (Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds… James 1:2)
- Struggles with and in this world? ([Jesus said] …”in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”. John 16:33
- How do you really know God? (Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
And then we get to REMEMBER. One of my favorite questions to middle school students while teaching a Humanities class was, “Is it a sin to forget?” An interesting question to students who are frequently reminded and counseled in ways to learn, memorize, and not forget! But is it a sin if you do forget? God knows our flaws and weaknesses- this isn’t about forgetting a math formula, or your lunch, or a dentist appointment—it’s about forgetting HIM! This is about forgetting what this Psalm tells us to praise Him for; remembering what He has done and who He is!
During those times of struggle—remember! And then praise Him! Praise Him with words, with songs, with dancing, with sharing… If you begin remembering, you will begin praising.
God, You are gracious and merciful. Your works are mighty and your righteousness is forever. Help me to remember what you have done throughout all generations and in my own life. And when I forget, bring memories, and your Word, back to me. May I praise you with my whole heart! Amen.
– Debby Ulle