Psalm 131

Although this Psalm is a very short Psalm it has much for you and I today. It is a Psalm of ascents. Just what does the word or the description ascents really mean? I looked up several books and some do not claim to know the exact reason for the name. In some translations it is called songs of degrees. Both words degrees and ascents give us clues as to what the contents are. Degrees mean steps. Ascent means what it means, ie, to ascend, to go upwards. Really what the term a “song of ascents” means is that the congregation, with the priests in the lead, would sing these special Psalms as they ascended to the top of Mount Zion.

There is also the symbolic meaning of Mount Zion in the Scriptures which relate to the Redeemed of the Lord, those who were fully committed to Him. Study the contents of these songs of ascent and you will be given all the clues to a life that is committed to the Lord.

Although Psalm 24 is not one of the ascent Psalms, it gives us the clue to the ascent Psalms. Verse 3 asks, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place? Paraphrased it asks who shall be admitted and accounted a true member of the church and enjoy the favour and blessing of God? What is God’s answer to this? God’s answer is simple and clear. Psalm 24:4 gives us 4 clear instructions and guide lines.

He who has clean hands.
He who has a pure heart.
He who does not lift up his soul to vanity {worldly things, an idol, pride, etc]
He who does not swear by what is false.

Those who practice the above in the presence of the Lord will receive blessings and will be vindicated, or pardoned, by God his Saviour. These are the ones God is seeking after. As we seek the Lord’s presence, so we ascend the symbolic Mount Zion, the place of the redeemed in Jesus Christ.

Let us look at this short Psalm 131 a little more closely. David is both the author and the subject of this beautiful Psalm. It has been said that this Psalm is the shortest to read but the longest to learn. It is the shortest to read, but, the longest to learn! Surely this is a profound statement to make! Why? Because this Psalm is a song of Humility, and humility is the hardest to learn.

Is it easy to humble yourself before other people? Some will say yes it is! But let me tell you that it is not so when you try to put it into practice! Why is this so? Our reading gives us the reason why, and it also gives us some ways in which we can do this. But, remember, you cannot do it in your own strength. You can only truly humble yourself with the help of, and in the strength of, the Lord.

Let us look at some synonyms, ie, words of similar meanings, for humbleness: here are some; see if they apply to you!

Meekness, lowliness, unpretending, unassuming and modest.

We know these words, but do we really KNOW and UNDERSTAND their meanings? To be meek is to be soft, gentle, kind and patient without losing your inner strength and your dignity. Jesus once said, and I paraphrase it; “Blessed are the soft, the gentle, the kindhearted, the patient Christian, for he or she will be inheritors of the earth.” To be lowly is not to blow your own trumpet; it is to be modest, even if you happen to be in a high position of authority.

One very important point to remember is that in God’s eyes we are all on the same level, and I am speaking of all those who are in Jesus Christ, whether you are white, brown, yellow or black, rich or poor. If Jesus is our Saviour then we are all the same, brothers and sisters in Christ. Under no circumstance is anyone who is still in the world and living a Christless life equal to you or me.

What is all this leading to? This brings me to the first lesson of this Psalm.

Verse 1 says, “LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty.” What is that famous proverb about pride? Let me you; It is “Pride comes before a fall!” David himself said, “My heart is not proud, my eyes are not haughty,” A proud person is inclined to boast, and boasting leads sooner or later to untruths or lies. A proud and boastful person will not admit defeat or when he is in the wrong. A proud person deceives himself only.

Proverbs has a lot to say about a proud person; I’ll quote a few only. Prov. 6:17, “The Lord hates a proud look, a lying tongue.” NIV. Prov. 15:25, “The Lord will destroy the house of the proud.” Prov. 16:5, “The Lord detests all the proud of heart, be sure of this: they will not go unpunished.” It you are a proud person then you will be an obstacle to yourself, for God resists the proud. (James 4:6). We must all ask Jesus to help us lose our pride!

Secondly we must:

Verse 1 also says about David. “Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me” So often we do not see the wood for the trees! We see the big things, but forget the seemingly small things, the trivial and the insignificant. We see a cloud in the sky as a single entity. Yet that cloud is made up of millions of small droplets of water each with its own speck of dust as a kernel to keep it together. We see the rain as a single entity yet forget that every single drop counts in the final analysis. So it is in our lives. God showers His children with myriads of blessings, some big, but mostly an infinite number of smaller blessings. Are you aware of them? Take time to count your blessings, one by one. We are to expect large blessing, but so often they are made up of a large number of smaller ones.

The third lesson we learn is:

Verse 2, “Surely, I have behaved and quieted myself”
How do we do this? By resting awhile. Take time to forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There is a saying that goes like this, If Christians do not come apart and rest a while, they may just plain come apart.

In this aspect I myself have failed badly. I have let myself fall into that trap and now I find myself under doctor’s treatment [1989] longsuffering from an overworked condition. Fortunately I will be away on a well-earned period of leave as from the end of this week. As I am supposed to be resting, my wife is not to happy that I am spending this Sunday afternoon preparing this message for you for tomorrow morning.

Be that as it may, for a Christian to truly rest he has to wean himself from the rest of the world. Unfortunately there are so many Christians who have not yet completely weaned themselves from the things of the world and then they wonder why things go wrong with them.

Even when one is busy with God’s work, God expects one to take a rest every now and then. That is why the Sabbath, the day of rest was instituted. Now it is immaterial whether this day is on a Saturday or a Sunday, the fact still stands; one day in a week is to be a rest day. Do we really observe it as we should?

The fourth lesson is

Verse 3, “Let Israel hope in the LORD [When?] from henceforth and for ever.”
Is your hope in the Lord, in Jesus Christ? As children of the Lord, after being weaned from the “milk”, we are to “eat” the meat of the Word. And so, separated from sin and the world, we will find our all in God.

This morning I put a challenge to all of us: Have you really learned the lesson of eternal life and the eternal hope in Jesus Christ?

Put your trust in Jesus, your trust in the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour and you will be rewarded as you ascend up the road of this life closer to the presence of the Lord Himself.