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Psalm 131:2-3

2. If I have not set and quieted my soul like one that is weaned from his mother, ­ my soul is over me as a weaned child. 3. Israel shall hope in Jehovah from henceforth, and for ever.

 

2. If I have not set, etc. He here employs a figure which appropriately explains what he meant, and likens himself to a weaned child; by which is intended, that he dismissed all the anxieties which disquiet the man of ambition, and was willing to be satisfied with small things. This assertion, which some might be inclined to disbelieve, he makes with an oath, expressed in that particular form of which I have elsewhere taken notice, in which the imprecation is not directly brought forward, but left to be understood, to teach us caution in the use of God’s name. 124124     “אם-לא, A formula of swearing which may be translated surely or indeed. I have surely so disposed and disciplined my soul as to remove it from any longing after great things, from any ambitious tendencies.” — Phillips. As to the words, to set his soul like a child, is as if he had said, that he would frame it into such a likeness. And this with the view, as he declares, of composing himself to silence. For דוממתי domaintee, is formed from דום dum, and has the active sense of reducing to silence. The quiet of soul he alludes to is opposed to those tumultuous desires by which many cause disquietude to themselves, and are the means of throwing the world into agitation. The figure of childhood is elsewhere used in another sense, to convey reprehension. (Isaiah 28:9.)

“Whom shall I teach knowledge? them that are weaned from the milk? and drawn from the breasts?”

where the Prophet censures the people for their slowness of apprehension, and being as incapable of profiting by instruction as infants. In the passage now before us, what is recommended is that simplicity of which Christ spake,

“Unless ye become like this little child, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of God.” 125125     Of all explanations the best is that of considering the comparison to consist between the humbleness and simplicity of the Psalmist’s mind, and that of a little child, in whom there does not exist a sufficient consciousness to create an ambition for any worldly object. The comparison is not with יונק, a suckling; for it has a longing after the mother’s breast, and, therefore, such a comparison would not be appropriate. The same, indeed, may be said of a child who has only just been weaned; for, in that stage, how often does it cry and mourn after that of which it has been deprived, and the possession of which was just before its chief pleasure? We therefore conclude, that the comparison is intended to be with a child who has been weaned a sufficient time to have forgotten its infantile nutriment, and who is not conscious of any particular desires or cravings, and quietly resigns itself to its mother’s care and training. — Phillips. (Matthew 18:3)

The vain desires with which men are carried away originate in their seeking to be wise and careful above what is necessary. David adds accordingly, my soul over me is quieted, not as expressing the language of self-confidence, but speaking as if his soul lay sweetly and peacefully on his bosom, undisturbed by inordinate desires. He contrasts the wayward and tumultuous agitation which prevails in those of a discontented spirit, with the peace which reigns in the man who abides in the calling of the Lord. From the verse with which the Psalm closes, we see the reason why David asserted his having undertaken nothing in the spirit of a carnal ambition. He calls upon Israel to hope in the Lord, words which must have been abrupt had it not deeply concerned the common safety of the Church, to know that he sat upon the throne of the kingdom by Divine appointment, in which case the faithful would be certain of the bestowment of the promised blessing. Our hope is of the right kind when we cherish humble and sober views of ourselves, and neither wish nor attempt anything without the leading and approbation of God.


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