Vol. 2 - No. 3
Humility In Psalm 131
by Warren E. Berkley
"0 Lord, my heart is not proud, or my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me. 0 Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever," (Psalms 131, New American Standard).
This is a beautiful portion of Scripture, and a vivid statement on humility. If we will study this passage and examine ourselves, there will be profit.
It begins: "0 Lord, my heart is not proud, or my eyes haughty." In modern vocabulary, the words "pride" and "proud" are sometimes used in a good, positive sense, having to do with the joy of accomplishment. In the Bible, however, there is a kind of pride that isn't so innocent; an arrogant, puffed-up spirit wherein a person is obsessed by his own self-importance. This kind of pride is condemned in the prayer of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:3); the friends of Job were guilty of it (Job 12:2,3), and it was exemplified by the scribes and Pharisees (Luke 11:43 & 20:46). This kind of pride begins in the heart (Mark 7:21,22), but it often finds expression through the eyes (see also: Psalms 101:5; Proverbs 6:17 & 21:4). Let us, as Christians, mold our hearts and develop ourselves, so that we can say, "0 Lord, my heart is not proud, or my eyes haughty."
The confession of humility continues: "Nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me." The person who over-estimates himself, tends to over-estimate what he can do. Here is the mistake the friends of Job made. He had this crisis in his life, and he was trying to figure out why. The three friends came to Job, and in the pride and arrogance of their hearts, they boasted, "WE HAVE THE ANSWER!" No humility here. And so they involved themselves in great, deep matters they were not qualified to deal with. This illustrates the point: the person who over-estimates himself, tends to over-estimate what he can do.
Often, when people take on more than they can effectively do, an element of arrogance or pride is the basic problem. A person over-estimates himself, and so he over-estimates what he is able to effectively do.
Another expression of this attitude of pride: we sometimes involve ourselves in matters too great for us; things too difficult for us. When men presume to make laws for God…when unholy men propose to speak where God hasn't spoken…when people try to add to or take from the law of Christ…when men try to decide things only God can decide…and when people exalt their opinions to the status of divine law, there is this arrogance.
Sometimes people want to know too much! There are some Christians who want to solve all mysteries. They want to be able to explain every-thing they see in the affairs of men and the providence of God. They want to know the answers to all the questions and dogmatically give black and white solutions to all controversies. (And, if they run out of controversies, they will create some more; and then, of course, give the infallible answer). Some people want to know too much; they are not content to be learners and growers, THEY MUST BE KNOWERS! Solomon said, there are some things man cannot discover (Ecclesiastes 8:17). But, a person who over-estimates himself, is liable to over-estimate what he is able to do, and know. In this confession of humility, we see a man who was wise and humble enough to recognize his limitations. He said, "0 Lord, my heart is not proud, or my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me."
Now, here's the "dessert." This humility that's confessed in verse one, blesses the possessor with the composure, the hope and comfort expressed in verses 2 & 3. "Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me, 0 Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever."
Many of us are bothered by all kinds of anxieties, pressures, stresses, tensions and depression. Some suffer from attitudes that cause indigestion, or anger that causes headaches. And there are many fears and worries that keep us from being what we ought to be. Some must confess that they do not have "the peace of God, that passeth all understanding."
So, what is described in verses two and three is attractive. Here is an individual who brought his soul into a state of peace and contentment. Here is composure, quietness of mind and rest .... as a child that has been weaned learns to rest in its mother's bosom.
But, if we want this composure of spirit de-scribed in verses two and three, WE MUST DEVELOP AND CULTIVATE THE HUMILITY CONFESSED IN VERSE ONE!
"God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." "Humble yourselves in the sight of God, and He shall exalt you." (Proberbs 3:34; James 4:6,10).