Living in Hope
Lord, keep my attitude and my ego in line.
Read PSALM 131
1 My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide
“Come, thou long-expected Jesus” (Charles Wesley, 1707–1788).
Today marks the second Sunday of Advent, which gives us good reason to “put your hope in the Lord” (3). The Lord is the covenant-making God who has revealed his name as “compassionate and gracious” (Exod. 34:5,6), and his glory is seen above all in Christ, whose presence—past, present and coming—we celebrate.
What would lead a heart to become “proud” with eyes “haughty” (1)? Is it a self-evaluation of deserving status, privilege, benefits and honor above others—with protection against any threats? The accompanying “great matters” and “things too wonderful” possibly point to self-centeredness and arrogance. Jeremiah’s scribe, Baruch, is warned not to “seek great things for yourself” (Jer. 45:5), while Paul, in light of God’s mercy and diverse God-given gifts, encourages sober self-evaluation (Rom. 12:3). Essentially, the way we see our relationship with God (and hence with others) and our hope for the future, shapes our character, values and attitudes.
The positive contentment and trust of the “weaned child with its mother” (2) is striking. This psalm may have first been “uttered by a woman as she carried her young child along the way to Jerusalem” (J. Clinton McCann, New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume IV). The final phrase of verse 2 is most straightforwardly translated, “like the weaned child I carry, is my soul” (Leslie C. Allen, Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101–150).
Such is the attitude that Jesus requires to “enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Here too is a vivid maternal image of God; we rest in him as we “hope” (3) for the future. We are “content” (2) with what we have received, set free from the temptation to be proud and thankless. As we experience this, we call others to share the same hope that is “both now and for evermore” (3).
On this Advent Sunday, “like a weaned child” meditate on your hope in God and its basis and content.
Lord, teach me not to behave like a child but to trust You like a child, as I hope in the same mercy You promised Israel
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