Psalm 131

Although this psalm is extremely short, it contains the deepest of spiritual lessons.
The important lesson is of humility.
The very brevity of this psalm manifests the genuineness of its author's humility.

One who is truly humble does not speak too much.
In addition, he speaks very little of himself.
The humble person never boasts.
Whatever is solid emits only a small sound.
A drum, by comparison, beats loudly because it is hollow inside.

Those who are empty within are those who makes the loudest noises.
This song, by its very structure, exhibits the essence of humility.

This is a song of degrees.
It can be said that this song is one step in advance of the preceding one.

The preceding psalm taught the lesson of brokenness.
This psalm teaches us the lesson of humility.

Humility comes out of brokenness.
That is the only way to humility.
A person can never have real humility if he has not gone through the experience of brokenness.

This song is attributed to David.
David had passed through much suffering.
He learned the lesson of this psalm.

David learned humility in his life.
David was overlooked, and neglected by his father when he was young.
Samuel came to anoint the new king of Israel from among the sons of Jesse.
Jesse, gathered all his sons, except David.
It was as though, to say, that only one of these sons could possibly be the one who would be anointed.
David was left in the field.
He was neglected by his own father. (1 Samuel 16:11)

Remember when war broke out between the Israelites and the Philistines,
David's three elder brother's joined the army, and were stationed at the front.
Shortly afterward, David was sent by his father to check on the welfare of his brethren.

But his eldest brother, Eliab, reprimanded him by saying to him:
"I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart"!
(1 Sam. 17:28)

Yet, is it not an axiom of human nature that we always measure others by what we ourselves are?

David's brother, Eliab, said to him, "You are proud!"
But we sense that David's brother was guilty of that very fault.

King Saul ill-treated David.
After David had been used mightily by the Lord to defeat Goliath and the Philistines,
and was brought into the court of Saul and was doing well, Saul became extremely jealous of him.
After that, David was hunted down like a partridge all the mountains by a jealous King Saul. (1 Sam. 26: 20)

We must bear in mind that when David was young, he had been sent to tend a few sheep;
but he had already become a mighty warrior. (1 Samuel 16:18 19)

Think of that!

A mighty warrior looking after a few sheep!
What kind of life must that be?
How frustrating that must have been!

So, when David came into the prime of life, he was a fugitive.
Fleeing for his life, David had to hide in caves.
He regarded himself hounded as a dog, and chased after as a single flea by his enemies. (1 Samuel 24:14)

The early life of David was crushed and broken and treaded upon repeatedly,
so much so, that he became a man of brokenness.
The Lord allowed these things in his life in order that he might have a spirit of brokenness.
And out of that brokenness that he might possess a spirit of humility.

David became a humble man.
David was genuinely humble.

During the entire span of David's life, there were but two occasions recorded
in which he greatly displeased the Lord.

One time was with Bathsheba -- the sin of the lust of the flesh.
Even so, notice his reaction towards the discipline of the Lord.

When you read the 51st Psalm,
you discover that he learned through his fall the precious lesson of humility.
We see that he felt himself broken before the Lord.
He was contrite in his spirit.

Study his reaction to the Lord's discipline.
When the chastening hand of the Lord was heavy upon him, the child born of his lust was dying.
David fasted and lay on the floor -- hoping that the Lord might be merciful to the child.
But after the child died, David rose up, washed himself, went to the tabernacle, and worshiped the Lord.

Throughout this entire episode, we see that David was broken before the Lord.
And out of his brokenness, a humble Spirit emerged.

The second instance when David fell was toward the end of his reign.

David was determined to count the people of Israel.
God had continually promised that His people would be as the stars of the heaven
and as the sands of the sea.
In short, God had promised countless people.

Nevertheless, David began to number them.
He wanted to see how many he had.
Pride was the motive behind this.

What David should have done was to believe that the Lord had given him countless subjects.
He should have trusted in the promise of the Lord.
Instead, he grew proud; he wanted to number them to see how many there were.
(2 Samuel 24)

What do the scriptures say about David after he numbered the people?
The scriptures relate that David was pricked in his heart. (Verse 10)
David began to see the error of his way.
Consequently, he humbled himself before the Lord.

We must see another important lesson in all of this.
Although humility characterized David throughout his life, towards the end of his reign
he did began to fail in this respect.

It is ironic!
Moses, for instance, who was the meekest of all men.
God declared it to be so -- got severely angry one day.
As a result, what happens to our image of Moses?
It is spoiled!

The greatest danger to a person possessed of the greatest virtue is to act opposite
to what he, by that virtue, is.
This shows us that we have nothing whereof to boast.
We need the mercy and grace of the Lord all the time.

Moses was the meekest.
Nonetheless, he was disqualified from entering the Promised Land because
during one careless moment, he misrepresented God.
Moses represented God in his meekness, but he fell in this very respect.

By the same token, David represented Christ in the matter of humility,
and yet, here he was, indulging in pride by counting his people.

Despite this, David is still a man of humility.
The moment he realized what he had done; he humbled himself before the Lord and confessed,
"Lord, I am wrong, I am wrong."

Shortly afterwards, he confided,
"Lord, I am willing to be under your hand of discipline." (2 Samuel 24:14)
He humbled himself before the Lord because he knew the Lord was merciful.

Humility is not natural to us.

In this world of humanity, we may find some who appear to be more humble than others,
but the truth is, humility is not a virtue of the flesh.
To put it bluntly, when we appear to be humble naturally, it is merely pride in disguise.

Humility is solely the nature of Christ.
It is absent in the man of the flesh.

No matter how much we may appear to be humble; within we are proud.

The more humble we appear to be, the more arrogant is our spirit.
Humility comes from Christ.
Humility is the nature of Christ.
Of Himself, He testified, "I am meek and lowly in heart."
And His testimony is true.

How can the humility of Christ be ours?
Or, to put it another way, how can Christ be our humility?
What is the secret of having Christ in this way?

Let us not forget this fact -- we have Christ in us!
Christ dwells in us -- in all His humility.

Why is it not a daily reality to us?
Why is it, that we who have the life of Christ, do not exhibit His humility?
On the contrary, we display arrogance and pride more often -- why?

It is because the road to humility leads via the route of brokenness.
If we are not broken in our spirit before the Lord, then the humility of Christ has no way out of us.

Humility, to be understood correctly, is not something we can take upon ourselves
by attempting to make ourselves lowly.
The more we try to be humble, and the more we try to create humility in our lives, the prouder we become.

Instead of giving people the impression of our lowliness, we leave them with the impression
of our own superiority: "I am more humble than you are!"

Consequently, it is not something which can be manufactured.
It is something which must come naturally -- through brokenness.

Psalm 130 precedes Psalm 131.
So, unless there is brokenness in our life, there cannot be any humility.
Humility stamps the life of those who are in union with God.

If illumination, understanding, enlightenment, vision, and knowledge characterize a child of God
who is in the second stage of the spiritual ascent, then humility distinguishes that one,
who is in the final stage of spiritual experience.
That is the stage of union with God.

Now come to this psalm itself.

We do not know the occasion, which inspired it.

Look at verse 1:
"Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters,
or in things too marvelous for me

David is addressing himself to the Lord.
And in this opening verse, he tries to give expression to his inner feeling of lowliness
in three different ways.

He touches upon three organs -- the heart, the eyes, and the mind.
Neither in his heart nor in his eyes, nor in his mind is there any trace of arrogance or pride.

The heart is the seat of our moral and spiritual being.
Out of the heart issues everything in our life. (Proverbs 4:23)

As David was examining himself, he could honestly say, "My heart is not haughty."

Can we say that?
Can you and I affirm, "My heart is not haughty"?

Are we humble before the Lord?
Is there any haughtiness or pride, or any uplifting of ourselves before the Lord?
If our heart is filled with Christ, we will be humble.

What is humility?

Humility is nothingness.
Humility is the absence of self.

If we are thinking of ourselves in terms of " I ", " I ", " I ", and how very humble I am, and how meek I am,
and how lowly I am -- then I am afraid that this very attention, which is drawn
towards that, ' I ", is itself a sign of pride.

Remember, humility is self-lessness.
The reason humility stamped the life of our Lord Jesus is because He was self-less.
He never thought of Himself.
He said:
"I can do nothing of myself: I cannot speak, I cannot do:
not Mine, but the Father's will.

In the entire life Christ, you cannot detect the slightest evidence of self -- you only see God.
That is the key -- no self.

"Lord, my heart is not haughty."

God can do anything He wishes.
We are like soft and tender clay in the hands of the Potter.
He may mold and fashion us and do anything He likes with us -- without our resisting or without our rebelling.

Is this so with us in our heart?

"Nor my eyes lofty."

Our eyes are related to our heart.
What is in our heart is disclosed through our eyes.
Our eyes are the reflection of our inward condition.
Our eyes are the windows, which reveal what's inside.

If we are haughty in heart, our eyes cannot help, but be lofty.
We will look down upon everyone else.
We conceive ourselves to be somebody.
We feel we have accomplished something.
And this simply reveals that there is no humility in our heart.

In order to correct this flaw,
let us not try to deal with our eyes, first, but let us try to deal with our heart, first.
As we allow God to deal with our hearts, our eyes will not be lofty.

"Neither do I exercise myself in great matters and in things too marvelous for me."

This passage has two different translations.

One is: "Neither do I exercise myself in great things, in things too marvelous for me."
This is to say, that his mind is being exercised about matters that are way above him.
If the heart is the seat of purpose and the eyes are its expression, then the mind is its activity.

What occupies our mind?
Are we trying to penetrate areas too wonderful and too great for us?
Or are we willing to leave some things to God?

The other translation is:
"Neither do I walk about in great matters and in things too marvelous for me."

Whatever rendering it may be, of one thing we can be sure.
In this psalm is a soul who is not exercising himself or walking about in great matters
and in things too wonderful for him.

You might say: "Is that bad. Is it not right for us to look into great matters?
Is it not correct that we should search out the deep mysteries of the Lord

Sure, we should seek for increased explanation and penetration into the profound truths of God.
But the Lord has dealt with that soul here.
The Lord has crushed him, and has broken him down in such a way,
and he has arrived at such a stage that he can currently say:
";Lord, I do not exercise myself in great matters, nor in things too marvelous for me.
If you grant me these things, I gladly receive; but if you should not, I am content.
I am content to be left unknown and not knowing.
I will not agitate and become restless, because I want to prove the secret of God

Are we in such a state?
Do we have such an attitude?

On the one hand, it is not wrong to search and to seek.
On the other hand, it is a right spirit, which can say,
"I do not exercise or walk around in great matters.
I am content to be small.
I am content to be insignificant, if that is what God wants me to be

What is David's secret?

How is it that his heart is not haughty, that his eyes are not lofty,
nor his mind exercising itself in areas too wonderful for him?
How did he come to that place?

Verse 2 contains the secret.
"Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, as a child that is weaned of his mother;
my soul is even as a weaned child."

How beautiful!

David has calmed and composed his soul as a weaned child with his mother.
We know a child needs milk for his sustenance.
There comes a time, however, when a child must be weaned.

The child is growing up.
He needs something different.
He needs solid food to sustain his developing, growing life.

Unless such nursing condition changes to something else,
the child will never be able to eat solid food that is so necessary for his growth and maturity.
He must be weaned.

And we must be weaned from the milk of this world.
We are to proceed onward into that maturity, which is in Christ. (Hebrews 5:12-6: 1)

In verse 3 is the earnest teaching of this humble soul:
"Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and forever."

The soul that is weaned, even from the blessings of God, is one who hopes only in the Lord.
"Christ in you, the hope of glory."

He has long since given up hope in himself.
His hope is in God.

Because he hopes in God, this soul exhorts all Israel -- he exhorts the entire church -- to hope in the Lord,
from henceforth and forevermore because that is the one thing which is true, which is real, and which is solid.

It is only when Christ the Lord is developed in us that we have hope.
Let this be our attitude always.

May this very short psalm teach us this basic, but highly important lesson of humility.

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
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