The Solemnity of God’s Holy Presence: Psalm 131

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Psalm 131 (NIV)

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.

–Sing this psalm with the Seedbed Psalter today! Visit the resource here.

CONSIDER THIS

We have seen how the Psalms of Ascents frame the perspective of the pilgrims and prepare them for their entrance into Jerusalem, the temple and, indeed, into God’s holy presence. Psalm 131 focuses on the quieting of the heart and life when coming into God’s presence: “I have stilled and quieted my soul,” the psalmist declares (v. 2).

Capturing a sense of calm and quiet before we enter God’s presence helps us regain our perspective. Phrases like, “My heart is not proud” and I am “like a weaned child with its mother” (vv. 1–2) capture the intimate trust and expectation that is ours when we enter into the presence of God. This great theme has largely been lost in the contemporary church. It is not unusual to see worshippers rushing into church with a cup of coffee in their hand, and a worship band rehearsing loudly while people laugh and talk in the moments before the beginning of worship. The sanctuary has been replaced by a “celebration center”; the prelude has been replaced by a countdown clock; and stillness has been replaced by idle chatter about politics, sporting games, shopping, and other events of the past week. We must recapture the mystery and wonder of coming into God’s presence. To walk into the presence of God is not the same as walking into your local Starbucks. To stand with God’s people is not the same as standing in a baseball stadium. There is a holy solemnity that needs to be recaptured as we prepare to enter God’s presence with his people.

Psalm 131 also cultivates a deep humility in us as we lean upon God and release our fears and anxieties into his keeping. This is the posture of the Christian life that the Psalms give us the foundation for—humility and quiet trust that places all our hope in Christ, in whom we find the presence of God.

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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