The fourth meditation for our church’s week of prayer covers Psalms 129-131. The pilgrims songs remember deliverance from trials (Psalm 129) and God’s forgiveness in Psalm 130. These lead into Psalm 131, which is an expression of complete trust – “I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for his mother’s milk” (Ps 131:2, NLT).
If you prefer to read, rather than watch, there is a written summary below:
I was seven years old when my new baby brother was brought home from hospital. I was allowed to hold him for a while, before the crying started. I couldn’t grasp how he could cry so much. I longed for him to get older and, hopefully, calmer.
Psalm 131 gives us an image of trust: “I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me” (Psalm 131:2, NLT). The image is of a child who is not agitated for food like a new-born, but is older, weaned, resting in quietness and trust.
In the preceding two psalms, the pilgrims give us the foundations for that trust.
Psalm 129 uses strong language, asking the Lord to act in judgement against those who attack God’s people. Under the new covenant, we follow the commands of Jesus, to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44), but even though we pray that the Lord would change the hearts of persecutors, it is still right for us to ask Him to remove them if they refuse to repent.
Also in Psalm 129, the pilgrims are looking back on their trials and on God’s deliverance in them – “they have not prevailed against me” (v2). Remembering our salvation, the greatest deliverance, and remembering answered prayer encourages us to trust today. Even in the midst of trials, we can be like the weaned child of Psalm 131, trusting the Lord, even when we don’t understand (Ps 131:1).
Psalm 130 moves on from asking God to deal with the enemy by recognising that the pilgrims themselves are sinners – “If you, O Lord should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” (Ps 130:3). How can they expect deliverance when they are sinners, too? Only because “with You there is forgiveness, that You may be feared” (Psalm 130:4). As new covenant believers, we know that this forgiveness has been won for us by Jesus dying in our place. The Father marked our iniquities in Him.
These two foundations – past deliverance in trials and present forgiveness – enable the pilgrims to say: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope” (Psalm 130:5).
The New Living Bible translates v5, “I am counting on the Lord.” God can still be “counted on”, even if we don’t understand and are struggling to see what He is doing.
As we pray today, let’s reflect on the past things that God has done for us, and on the wonder of His forgiveness through Christ.