Psalm 131

Psalm 131  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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The happy confidence of the preceding Psalm is not to be condemned as presumption. Eliab may accuse David of naughtiness and pride of heart, but it is not so. Hope “in the Lord” may be bold; and such was David’s then, and such is that of the soul in these Psalms, and such is that of every poor sinner who receives the grace and salvation of the gospel.
This Psalm, therefore, strikingly and beautifully follows the preceding one. It was the feeling, possibly, of the really meek David, on turning away from the reproach of Eliab (1 Sam. 17:28-2928And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle. 29And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause? (1 Samuel 17:28‑29)). But it could have been afterward happily used by ransomed Israel, who were then free and confident in the salvation of God. And this assured “hope in the Lord” is ever, when real and spiritual, combined with the quietness and subjection of a weaned child.
This allusion to David leads me for a moment to look at him in 1 Samuel 16 and 1 Samuel 17. We may call the time of those chapters the youth or spring-time of David’s soul. And how beautifully simple, and how full of real moral dignity it is!
He was the neglected one of the family. But he was content to be so. He would readily tend the sheep in the field, while his more esteemed brothers remained at home to receive the guests, and do the honors of the house.
On the arrival of the prophet Samuel he is called in. But as scorn had not dejected him, distinctions do not elate him. As soon as the occasion is over, he is back again among the flocks.
He is then summoned to the court of the king to do a service which none but he could do. But again, when the service is done, he is in the wilderness with his few sheep, despised but contented (1 Sam. 17:1515But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem. (1 Samuel 17:15)).
A third time he is called for. He has now to go to the camp, as before to the court. But after achieving the greatest feats, he is willing to be still unknown, and without thought of resentment tells who he was to those whose ignorance of him was itself a kind of slight or indignity (1 Sam. 17:55,5855And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell. (1 Samuel 17:55)
58And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite. (1 Samuel 17:58)
What beauty, what true elevation of soul! And what was the secret of all this? He found his satisfaction in Christ. The sheepfold was as important to him as the court or the camp, because “the Lord was with him.” He did not live by excitement, nor pine under neglect. He let the world know that he was independent of what they could either give him or make him. Blessed attainment! It may remind us of those affectionate words from the Olney Hymns—
“Content with beholding His face,
My all to His pleasure resign’d,
No changes of season or place
Could make any change in my mind.
When blest with a sense of His love,
A palace a toy would appear;
And prisons would palaces prove
If Jesus would dwell with me there.”