Psalm 131: 2a Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul.
I watched the inaugural 2020 edition of the ATP Cup, an international outdoor men’s tennis tournament between competing countries. Tennis is usually an individual or pairs event so this concept of a country’s team vs. another is pretty exciting. Twenty-four teams start and play opposing teams (two singles matches and a doubles), eliminating each other until only one country is left standing. A young Canadian team made it all the way to the quarterfinals where they faced the favored Serbian team. The young Canadian, Dennis Shapolov (a.k.a. Shapo), had the unfortunate task of taking on Serbian, and world #1, Novak Djokovic in a critical singles match. A massive contingent of Serbian fans made the trip to Australia for the Cup and they were boisterous during the match. Excited fans during a match is expected but this group was operating a little outside the lines as they would scream as Shapo attempted his return hits, and as he was getting ready to serve. Shapo was completely rattled. He complained to the umpire and received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as he took a dig at the fans. Shapo just could not tune out the noise.
There are certain sports where fan noise is just part of the game. Consider the camera view of what an NCAA basketball player sees and hears as they stand at the free throw line with the opposing team seated behind the glass backboard. That scene is anything but calm and quiet – it’s chaos. Somehow though, that player has to tune out the visual and audible noises. They need to calm their mind.
In today’s scripture from Psalm 131, David is clearly in a time of distress, especially if you back up a chapter and read Psalm 130. Many Bible commentators believe that it was written in the time when King Saul was pursuing David and trying to kill him (because Saul felt David was trying to steal the throne from him). Whatever the context, this very short Psalm shows a man who found contentment in turmoil. Charles Spurgeon said: “It is one of the shortest Psalms to read, but one of the longest to learn. It speaks of a young child, but it contains the experience of a man in Christ.”
David begins by making it clear that he is not striving for something that God has not intended for him: “I do not concern myself with great matters or things to wonderful for me”. (vs. 1) Next, he uses the analogy of a young child. “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.” (vs. 2) I recall when our children were young, and my wife was still breastfeeding. A dad can feel helpless in those days because their child is primarily interested in one thing while awake, and dads can’t satisfy that need! In contrast, David refers to the child who has been weaned from their mother, and can now simply lie content in their lap. The ASV Bible version says: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul”. In the midst of great turmoil all around him, David was able to quiet his soul.
It is clearly God who quieted David’s soul, but it came from David’s choice. We must choose to calm and quiet our souls. A weaned child embraces their mother out of a desire for love, closeness, and companionship and David chose to tuck close to his loving maker. It was this decision that quieted his soul. How about you? As you sit reading this today, is your soul quieted or agitated? Has the noise around you robbed you of peace? Go to God in prayer. Go to his word. Listen to his music. Choose to quiet your soul.