Learning Psalm 131 by Heart

I read an article today in the Journal of Biblical Counseling called “Peace, be still: Learning Psalm 131 by Heart” written by David Powlison. It perfectly met my wearied, irritable, hopeless heart this morning. He writes,

Psalm 131 is show-and-tell for how to become peaceful inside. Listen in.

LORD, my heart is not proud, and my eyes are not haughty,
and I do not go after things too great and too difficult for me.
Surely I have composed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child on his mother,
like a weaned child, my soul rests on me.
Israel, hope in the LORD now and forever.

It was helpful to read the opposite of this Psalm, Powlison calls it an anti-Psalm. Boy is it painful to read and know how close a description it is to my heart at times,

Self, my heart is proud (I’m absorbed in myself), and my eyes are haughty (I look down on other people),
and I chase after things too great and too difficult for me.
So of course I’m noisy and restless inside, it comes naturally,
like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap,
like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries.
I scatter my hopes onto anything and everybody all the time.

Ouch. At one point in the article he lists off a series of questions that I began to think about for myself. I ended up writing each along with its answer in my journal. It was very helpful for me. I began to see some patterns. I thought I’d share it here in case it might help you to think about these questions, as well.

What is the “noise” going on inside you?

Where does it come from?

How do you get busy and preoccupied? Why?

Do you lose your composure?

When do you get worried, irritable, wearied, or hopeless?

How can you regain composure?

Do you need to learn it for the first time?

This Psalm is written by a man who was chosen & known by God, and who walked with God. King David did this in the midst of life’s pressures, joys, troubles, outrage, commotion, affections, and heartaches. The hope in this is that Christ lived out this Psalm even more fully than King David. This Psalm is a portrayal Jesus’ life experience, his thoughts and consciousness while He was on this earth. That means it is mine — even on my most hurried, wearied and anxious days — this peaceful composure and quietness of soul is mine because Christ was made sin so that in Him I might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

That is good news.


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