January 27, 2019

Like a Weaned Child

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time on and forevermore.
Ps. 131 

This is probably the most beautiful psalm that deals with humility. It's not condemning the search for knowledge, but it does seem to eschew seeking knowledge for its own sake. In  Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, the principle character, in whose voice the the novel is written, has been asked about predestination by someone he suspects only wants to raise a contentious issue. He says after the fact that he doesn't like to discuss these matters with a person who has no "sympathy for theology." And I what he means might be explained in Psalm 131:2 with the metaphor of the "weaned child."

A nursing child no doubt loves its mother beyond the grown-up's imagining. But that doesn't change the fact that it is with its mother for something other than assurance and love. It is there for nutrition. A weaned child, on the other hand, wants only to be with its mother and experience her unconditional love.

In the same way, I am most content in my approach to God not when I want answers, but simply I desire the embrace of the Divine. To let go of all my assumptions, misconceptions, and mental games, in order simply to be with God is the sort of humility the Bible asks of me. And so I return to Psalm 131 frequently to better understand God's grace as the ground of my hope. 
All my hope on God is founded;
he doth still my trust renew,
me through change and chance he guideth,
only good and only true.
God unknown, he alone
calls my heart to be his own.

Pride of man and earthly glory,
sword and crown betray his trust;
what with care and toil he buildeth,
tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour,
is my temple and my tower.

God’s great goodness aye endureth,
deep his wisdom, passing thought:
splendor, light and life attend him,
beauty springeth out of naught.
Evermore from his store
newborn worlds rise and adore.

Still from mortal to th'Eternal
sacrifice of praise be done,
high above all praises praising
for the gift of Christ, his Son.
Christ doth call one and all:
Ye who follow shall not fall.
—Joachim Neander, trans. Robert Bridges
Forgive my false pride, Lord. Renew my faith in your grace and embrace me in your love, that I may seek nothing else; in the Name of Jesus Christ, who taught me to pray...

No comments:

Post a Comment