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Psalm 131:2

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 2. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself. The original bears somewhat of the form of an oath, and therefore our translators exhibited great judgment in introducing the word "surely"; it is not a literal version, but it correctly gives the meaning. The Psalmist had been upon his best behaviour, and had smoothed down the roughnesses of his self will; by holy effort he had mastered his own spirit, so that towards God he was not rebellious, even as towards man he was not haughty. It is no easy thing to quiet yourself: sooner may a man calm the sea, or rule the wind, or tame a tiger, than quiet himself. We are clamorous, uneasy, petulant; and nothing but grace can make us quiet under afflictions, irritations, and disappointments. As a child that is weaned of afflictions mother. He had become as subdued and content as a child whose weaning is fully accomplished. The Easterners put off the time of weaning far later than we do, and we may conclude that the process grows none the easier by being postponed. At last there must be an end to the suckling period, and then a battle begins: the child is denied his comfort, and therefore frets and worries, flies into pets, or sinks into sulks. It is facing its first great sorrow and it is in sore distress. Yet time brings not only alleviations, but the ending of the conflict; the boy ere long is quite content to find his nourishment at the table with his brothers, and he feels no lingering, wish to return to those dear fountains from which he once sustained his life. He is no longer angry with his mother, but buries his head in that very bosom after which he pined so grievously: he is weaned on his mother rather than from her.

"My soul doth like a weanling rest,
I cease to weep;
So mother's lap, though dried her breast,
Can lull to sleep."

To the weaned child his mother is his comfort though she has denied him comfort. It is a blessed mark of growth out of spiritual infancy when we can forego the joys which once appeared to be essential, and can find our solace in him who denies them to us: then we behave manfully, and every childish complaint is hushed. If the Lord removes our dearest delight we bow to his will without a murmuring thought; in fact, we find a delight in giving up our delight. This is no spontaneous fruit of nature, but a well tended product of divine grace: it grows out of humility and lowliness, and it is the stem upon which peace blooms as a fair flower. My soul is even as a weaned child; or it may be read, "as a weaned child on me my soul", as if his soul leaned upon him in mute submission, neither boasting nor complaining. It is not every child of God who arrives at this weanedness speedily. Some are sucklings when they ought to be fathers; others are hard to wean, and cry, and fight, and rage against their heavenly parent's discipline. When we think ourselves safely through the weaning, we sadly discover that the old appetites are rather wounded than slain, and we begin crying again for the breasts which we had given up. It is easy to begin shouting before we are out of the wood, and no doubt hundreds have sung this Psalm long before they have understood it. Blessed are those afflictions which subdue our affections, which wean us from self sufficiency, which educate us into Christian manliness, which teach us to love God not merely when he comforts us, but even when he tries us. Well might the sacred poet repeat his figure of the weaned child; it is worthy of admiration and imitation; it is doubly desirable and difficult of attainment. Such weanedness from self springs from the gentle humility declared in the former verse, and partly accounts for its existence. If pride is gone, submission will be sure to follow; and, on the other hand, if pride is to be driven out, self must also be vanquished.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 2. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, etc. Oh, how sapless and insipid doth the world grow to the soul that is making meet for heaven! "I am crucified to the world, and this world to me." Galatians 6:14 . In valet doth this harlot think to allure me by her attractions of profit and pleasure. "Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child." There is no more relish in these gaudy things to my palate, than in the white of an egg; everything grows a burden to me, were it not my duty to follow my calling, and be thankful for my enjoyments. I think I have my wife, husband, and dearest relations, as if I had none; I weep for outward losses, as if I wept not; rejoice in comforts below as if I rejoiced net ( 1 Corinthians 7:29-30 ); my thoughts are taken up with other objects. The men of the world slight me, many seem to be weary of me, and I am as weary of them. It is none of these earthly things that my heart is set upon; my soul is set on things above, my treasure is in heaven, and I would have my heart there also: I have sent before me all my goods into another country, and am shortly for removing; and when I look about me, I see a bare, empty house, and am ready to say with Monica, What do I here? my father, husband, mother (Jerusalem above), my brethren, sisters, best friends are above. I think, I grudge the world any portion of my heart, and think not these temporal visible things worth a cast of my eye compared with things invisible and eternal: 2 Corinthians 4:18 . --Oliver Heywood, 1629-1702.

Verse 2. (first clause). If I have not restrained, or quieted, and compelled to silence, my soul. It is a Hebrew phrase of asseveration and of swearing: as if he would say, I have thoroughly imposed silence on my soul, that it should be tranquil, and should bear patiently the divinely imposed cross. Just as in the following Psalm we hear a like form of asseveration: "If I will come into the tabernacle of my house", meaning "I will not come", etc. --Solomon Gesner.

Verse 2. I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned. Weaned from what? Self sufficiency, self will, self seeking. From creatures and the things of the world -- not; indeed, as to their use, but as to any dependence upon them for his happiness and portion ... Yet this experience is no easy attainment. The very form of expression -- "I have behaved and quieted myself", reminds us of some risings which were with difficulty subdued. There is a difference here between Christ and Christians. In him the exercise of grace encountered no adverse principles; but in them it meets with constant opposition. The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and when we would do good evil is present with us; hence the warfare within. So it is with "the child that is weaned." The task to the mother is trying and troublesome. The infant cries, and seems to sob out his heart. He thinks it very hard in her, and knows not what she means by her seeming cruelty, and the mother's fondness renders all her firmness necessary to keep her at the process; and sometimes she also weeps at the importunity of his dear looks, and big tears, and stretched out hands. But it must be done, and therefore, though she pities, she perseveres; and after a while he is soothed and satisfied, forgets the breast, and no longer feels even a hankering after his former pleasure. But how is the weaning of the child accomplished? By embittering the member to his lips; by the removal of the object in the absence and concealment of the mother; by the substitution of other food; by the influence of time. So it is with us. We love the world, and it deceives us. We depend on creatures, and they fail us, and pierce us through with many sorrows. We enter forbidden paths, and follow after our lovers; and our way is hedged up with thorns; and we then say, "Return unto thy rest, O my soul; and now, Lord, what wait I for? My hope is in thee." The enjoyment of a greater good subdues the relish of a less. What are the indulgences of sin, or the dissipations of the world to one who is abundantly satisfied with tile goodness of God's house, and is made to drink of the river of his pleasures? --William Jay (1769-1853), in "Evening Exercises for the Closet."

Verse 2. As a child that is weaned of his mother. Though the weaned child has not what it would have, or what it naturally most desireth, the milk of the breast -- yet it is contented with what the mother giveth -- it rests upon her love and provision. So are we to be content with what providence alloweth us: Heb 13:5, "Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have"; and Philippians 4:11 , "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Whatever pleaseth our heavenly Father should please us. The child that is put from the breast to a harder diet is yet contented at last. The child doth not prescribe what it will eat, drink, or put on. Children are in no care for enlarging possessions, heaping up riches, aspiring after dignities and honours; but meekly take what is provided for them. The child, when it has lost the food which nature provideth for it, is not solicitous, but wholly refers itself to the mother, hangeth upon the mother. So for everything whatsoever should we depend upon God, refer ourselves to God, and expect all things from him: Psalms 62:5 , "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him." With such a simplicity of submission should we rest and depend upon God. Let us take heed of being over wise and provident for ourselves, but let us trust our Father which is in heaven, and refer ourselves to his wise and holy government. --Thomas Manton.

Verse 2. As a child that is weaned of his mother. Weaned from the world, the riches, honours, pleasures, and profits of it; as well as from nature, from self, from his own righteousness, and all dependence upon it; and as a child that is weaned from the breast wholly depends on its nurse for sustenance, so did he wholly depend upon God, his providence, grace, and strength; and as to the kingdom, he had no more covetous desires after it than a weaned child has to the breast, and was very willing to wait the due time for the enjoyment of it. The Targum has it, "as one weaned on the breasts of its mother, I am strengthened in the law." This is to be understood not of a child whilst weaning, when it is usually peevish, fretful, and froward, but when it is weaned, and is quiet and easy in its mother's arms without the breast. --John Gill.

Verse 2. My soul is even as a weaned child. In its nature, weanedness of soul differs essentially from that disgust with the world, to which its ill usage and meanness sometimes give rise. It is one thing to be angry with the world, or ashamed of it, and another to be weaned from it. Alter the world, ennoble it, and many a proud mind that now despises, would court it. It is different also from that weariness of spirit which generally follows a free indulgence in earthly enjoyments. There is such a thing as wearing out the affections. Solomon appears to have done this at one period of his life. "I have not a wish left", said a well known sensualist of our own country, who had drunk as deeply as he could drink of tile world's cup. "Were all the earth contains spread out before me, I do not know a thing I would take the trouble of putting out my hand to reach."

This weanedness of soul presupposes a power left in the soul of loving and desiring. It is not the destruction of its appetite, but the controlling and changing of it. A weaned child still hungers, but it hungers no more after the food that once delighted it; it is quiet without it; it can feed on other things: so a soul weaned from the world, still pants as much as ever for food and happiness, but it no longer seeks them in worldly things, or desires to do so. There is nothing in the world that it feels necessary for its happiness. This thing in it it loves, and that thing it values; but it knows that it can do without them, and it is ready to do without them whenever God pleases.

Let us inquire now into the sources of this frame of mind -- how we get it. One thing is certain -- it is not our work. We do not bring ourselves to it. No infant weans itself. The truth is, it is God that must wean us from the world. We shall never leave it of our own accord. It is God's own right hand that must draw us from it. And how? The figure in the text will partly tell us.

  1. By embittering the world to us.
  2. At other times the Lord removes from us the thing we love.
  3. But he weans us most from the earth by giving us better food. --Condensed from a Sermon by Charles Bradley, entitled "Weanedness of Soul",

Verse 2. As a weaned child. That is, meek, modest, humble, submissive, simple, etc. See Matthew 18:1-4 . --Henry Ainsworth. --1622.

Verse 2. Here is David's picture of himself ... Observe, the "child" -- which is drawn for us to copy -- is "weaned": the process is complete; it has been truly disciplined; the lesson is learned; and now it rests in its "weaning." The whole image expresses a repose which follows a struggle. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother; or, more literally, "on his mother"; now content to lie still on the very place of its privation," -- as a child that is weaned on his mother."

That obedience would be a tame and valueless thing, which was not the consequence of quiet control. A mere apathetic state is the very opposite of obedience that may be truly so called. But this is the point of the similitude, -- there has been a distress, and a battle, and a self victory; and now the stilled will is hushed into submission and contentment; ready to forego what is most liked, and to take just whatever is given it -- "a weaned child."

I do not believe that it was ever the intention of God that any man should so merge and lose his will in the Divine, that he should have no distinct will of his own. There have been many who have tried to attain this annihilation of will; and they have made it the great aim and end of life. But the character of the dispensation does not allow it. I do not believe it to be a possible thing; and if it were possible, I do not believe that it would be after the mind of God. It is not man's present relation to his Maker. None of the saints in the Bible did more than submit a strong existing will. The Lord Jesus Christ himself did no more. "What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy name. Not my will, but thine be done." Evidently two things -- "My will", "Thy will." It was an instantly and perfectly subjugated will, -- nevertheless, a will.

And this is what is required of us; and what the nature of our manhood, and the provisions of our religion have to assume. A will, decidedly a will: the more decided the will, the stronger the character, and the greater the man. But a will that is always being given up, separated, conformed, constantly, increasingly conformed. The unity of the two wills is heaven. --Condensed from a Sermon by James Vaughan.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 2. The soul is as a weaned child:

  1. In conversion.
  2. In sanctification, which is a continual weaning from the world and sin.
  3. In bereavement.
  4. In affliction of every kind.
  5. In death. --G. R.

Verse 2.

  1. The soul has to be weaned as well as the body.

    1. It is first nourished by others.
    2. It is afterward thrown upon its own resources.
  2. The soul is weaned from one thing by giving its attention to another.

    1. From worldly things by heavenly.
    2. From self righteousness by the righteousness of another.
    3. From sin to holiness.
    4. From the world to Christ.
    5. From self to God. --G.R.

Verse 2.

  1. A desirable condition: "As a weaned child."
  2. A difficult task -- to subdue and quiet self.
  3. A delightful result: "Surely... my soul is as a weaned child." --W. H. J. P.

Verse 2.

  1. Soul fretfulness: weak, dishonourable, rebellious.
  2. Soul government; throne often abdicated; God gives each the sceptre of self rule; necessary to successful life.
  3. Soul quiet: its sweetness; its power. Come, Holy Spirit, breathe it upon us! -- W. B. H.

Verse 2. See "Spurgeon's Sermons", No. 1210: "The Weaned Child."

Verse 2-3. The weaned child hoping in the Lord:

  1. The first weaning of the soul, the grand event of a man's history.
  2. The joy in the Lord that springs up in every weaned soul: "My soul is even as a weaned child; let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever."
  3. The daily weaning of the soul through life.
  4. The earnest desires and the fruitful work of every weaned soul. --A. Moody Stuart.
Read Psalm 131:2