Psalm 131 is the shortest of the Psalms or Songs of Ascent. It is a Psalm of David which is significant upon further reflection. He claims to have learned humility and indeed the young shepherd and newly anointed king was a humble man. But as years passed and his power grew the humble song-singing king was given over to arrogance and scandalous sin. In this way Psalm 131 provides a powerful reminder that he who claims to have learned humility may be proving that he does not possess it after all.
Charles Spurgeon called Psalm 131, “one of the shortest Psalms to read but one of the longest to learn.” The virtues upheld in this Psalm are those to which every Christian ought to aspire. In lyrical prose the Psalmist commends humility, trust, and hope in the Lord. At the center is the portrait of a contented child having been fed and now weened. Such a picture is the exact opposite of a restless soul. A hungry baby will squirm and scream until he has what he desires. So it is with the soul which has not found its rest in the security and provision of the Lord. Until we find our refuge in the Lord we will be tortured by our nagging appetites and battered by the waves of anxiety.
The Psalm closes with a call for God’s people to trust in the Lord: “O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” Derek Kidner writes that these words rouse us from “contemplating David to following his example and that of his greater Son: not through introspection but through being weaned from insubstantial ambitions to the only solid fare that can be ours” (p. 448). Through the dying and rising of Jesus, God has provided his children with the salvation which is our source of peace now and hope for tomorrow. The place of rest for our souls is not circumstance but a Savior; not a place but a Person.