“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” Psalm 131:2
Weaning is an important process in a child’s normal and healthy development. It is the time when a mother slowly starts introducing her child to an adult diet while withdrawing the supply of mother’s milk. In other words, it is slowly depriving the child of something he or she enjoyed and was wholly dependent upon to train the child for an independent adult life that looks for nourishment from various sources. While the process doesn’t look or feel or even sound like a very loving act, it is done with the best intentions for the child’s holistic growth.
David exclaims in Psalm 131 that he’s like a weaned child. Let’s try to explicate this little psalm, probably the second tiniest psalm with just three verses to understand what this weaning is all about.
Psalm 131:2 is sandwiched between two positions: his being and his doing in the present and the future. His being in the present is neither haughty nor proud (V. 1) instead is hopeful (V. 3). His actions (doing) in the present, he’s neither caught occupied nor concerned (V. 1) but is waiting (V. 3).
A beautiful simile comes out: David’s soul within him is like a weaned child with his/her mother – calmness and quietness are the chief characteristics of a weaned child. Being the eldest child in a large family, I have enjoyed the privilege of watching many little babies grow up in front of me. Babies have a way of demanding that their needs be met instantly. They don’t understand ‘wait’. They want it and want it NOW. Once their needs have been strongly expressed it is very difficult or sometimes even impossible to quiet them without meeting their needs. The Mother typically hurries to meet the baby’s expressed need. But a weaned child is a contented child.
David says I have calmed and quieted my soul… and in verse 3 he says I wait in hope… I wonder if this aspect of spiritual weaning is becoming novel. We live in times when God is always and only portrayed as the genie in Aladdin’s lamp that can be rubbed with a prayer to grant us our requests… How we wish the verse read differently. ‘I cried and threw a tantrum, and God came running, met my need and He quieted my soul.’ Instead, it says David quieted his soul and he waited in hope.
Let’s explicate the twin stances that help him achieve this a little bit. The first is maintaining a heart that’s not lifted up (proud) and eyes that are not raised too high (haughty). I don’t look or experience beyond my area of control. The second is maintaining a posture that is neither occupied nor concerned. I don’t bring into my mind and bother about things that are too high and marvellous for me and feel overwhelmed. In other words, my physical (eyes), emotional (heart) and intellectual (mind) beings have been trained to be calm and quiet.
Wondering how this is possible? The clue is hiding in verse 2. The weaned child (is) with its mother. Though the mother has ceased to be the source of his/her nourishment the child is still in the mother’s arms. How often do we stray from God’s embracing arms when He starts weaning us and redefining our notions and sources of nourishment all with a noble intent of making us spiritually stronger?
The weaned spiritual being is hoping in the Lord or as the Message version puts it, wait(ing) with hope. Oh what peace we often forfeit when instead of waiting in hope we look around with our eyes, ponder in our hearts and concern our minds trying to occupy that which cannot be comprehended.
Waiting for God’s time, for God’s methods, for God’s purposes to come to pass in our lives requires you and me to teach ourselves to stay calm and quiet in God, like a weaned child with its mother.
‘What a blessedness, what a peace is mine
Leaning on the everlasting arms’
May we each experience the joy, peace, and contentment of a weaned child as we wait in hope on the Lord, our maker, our provider and our keeper!