When my grandfather was a grown man, he experienced a toothache so debilitating that he tried to climb into his mother’s lap. While that wouldn’t have made the pain go away, he knew that it would bring him another sort of comfort. It seems we never completely lose the desire to be embraced by a mother’s love.
My grandfather wasn’t able to gain the relief he sought because he had grown too big for such things. Sometimes, we have the same problem seeking God’s comfort. Our thoughts concern our own ways, how we might solve the problem at hand or what future dilemma we might avoid by present action. This psalm bears David’s name, and we know him as a man of action, too, but not in this poem. Psalm 131 appears in the middle of the Psalms of Ascent, the songs of a pilgrimage toward Zion. In the midst of the journey, we need to stop and rest as David did. We might picture him alone in the wilderness, done with fighting and fleeing, seeking only the peace of God’s company. To that end he advocates a return to dependence, a return to stillness, a return to childhood.
In distressing circumstances adults tend to cast about anxiously for a solution – or look for someone else to blame. Verse 1 teaches us to set aside these prideful ruminations, acknowledging that solutions are beyond us and that we are as fallen as the next sinner. A child is content to simply be comforted. A “weaned child,” as described in verse 2, might be three or four years old, still small but also independent. Such a child would no longer cry and quest for milk from his mother, but he would be satisfied with the warmth of her arms and the protection of her presence as she sings him to sleep. That is the aspect of God which David wants us to experience, the encircling, restful and gentle, mother-love of God.
We can only experience that stillness if we deliberately set aside the cares of the day and our attempts to fix them. We can only do that in a quiet space where nothing else intrudes. We can only do that when God alone is all we want, not the blessings He might bestow. The Lord of the universe gave us birth and nurture and sustenance. He proved His incredible love for us once and for all on the cross. He has all the time in the world to sit and hold us in His arms. Let us not wait until pain finally drives us there. Let us climb up into His lap in humble dependence and enjoy His love today.
- What present circumstance makes you most long for a mother’s loving comfort?
- Take five minutes right now to meditate on this psalm. Try to sit quietly in God’s lap, resting in His arms and His love. If you find yourself climbing down again, don’t be frustrated, just notice it, and go back to sit with Him a little longer.