Psalm 131

THE FRETTING HEART  — Pete Bauer

This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on May 15th, 2011.       To listen to the audio of this sermon, just click on this link – Ps 131.

1 My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

2 But I have stilled and quieted my soul;  like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.

3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore.

Psalm 131 is a window into one of David’s constant struggles – Fretting.  Beginning with his anointing by Samuel, david spent years in limbo – having been anointed as king, and yet recognizing that he should not lift a finger against King Saul – although assassination was a time honored way of dealing with such issues.  David waited for God to keep his promise and make him King.  David trusted God – but obviously he must have struggled with fretting during the years he lived in caves and hid from Saul and waited.  During those years, David learned to wait and trust in God.  He wrote this Psalm as a way of reminding himself to put his hope and trust in God.

This morning we want to be instructed by God – to learn this kind of trust.

First, what is Fretting?   Definition:  “To be worried or anxious – to gradually wear away by rubbing or gnawing – to feel uneasy or distressed – to  upset or concern oneself – to agonize, sigh, pine or brood – to be agitated.”    What does it mean when we fret?   We know that the stress of fretting “rubs and gnaws” at our souls and is even bad for our health.  How do we find peace?  These are the questions that Psalm 131 answers.

My Heart is Not Proud, My Eyes are Not Haughty…

What does it mean that we fret?   According to David, fretting is the result of a proud heart and haughty eyes – the desire to be thought highly of and praised – the desire to have our lives be just the way we want them without interference by circumstances or people.  David’s words are a kind of confession – as if David were saying, when I was agitated and upset it was because of the pride of my heart.

 Why do we fret?

~ We fret because we do not want to fail – to be found wanting or inadequate.

~ We fret because we want to build up a reputation – to be seen as competent, attractive, important, useful, talented or strong.

~ We fret because we are afraid of failure, pain, loss, exposure.  We are afraid that the carefully laid out plan of our lives will be ruined or interfered with.  We fret because we trust only in our own ability to create a life that will bless us.  Maintaining that life and that reputation gnaws away at us as we fend off every threat and fear.

This is what pride looks like in our hearts.  This is our revolt against God – even though we might pray, “Thy will be done” – we want our own will to be done.

David learned, through years of waiting, to lay down his own plan to become King and to trust that God would take care of him.  This humility is, in part, what God was talking about when he called David a man after his own heart.

I Do Not Concern Myself With Great Matters or Things Too Wonderful for Me… 

How did David deal with his fretting – watching over and maintaining his own path to blessing?   And what does it mean to lay down our lives in this way and to trust in God?  Did David become so spiritual that he could decide that the desires of his heart and life weren’t important after all?   NO!  Just the opposite!  David’s confession here is a statement acknowledging that the desires of his heart  were God-given, and that they were too important for him to entrust only to himself.   If David had taken matters into his own hand and assassinated Saul, he would have ruined his reign as King, and would have become just another disappointing King of Israel. He would have ruined what God was doing.

When we fret, we take on matters that are too big – too much – those things over which we have no control.  We worry them – we gnaw on them.  But David recognized, with humility, what things were beyond his control.

But I Have Stilled and Quieted My Soul Like a Weaned Child… 

So how do we find rest and peace from fretting?  What does David mean when he says that he has stilled and quieted his soul?

The image of a weaned child is instructive here.  A weaned child is a child who has figured out that the mother is going to take care of him.   Infants cry for their immediate desires with no thought of anything else.  But a weaned child is able to wait and trust.

Recognize What an Infant Your Soul Can Be:  Our souls can be infantile – crying out and demanding our immediate wants – only satisfied with immediate gratification… or our souls can be more like a weaned child – still and quiet in the assurance that what it needs will be provided – that God is caring for us.

In a sense, “being still” begins as we pay attention to ourselves and what we are doing – as we hear and recognize fretting as the demands of the soul for a life that is really an idolatrous picture of life – a perfect picture of what we want – the way we want it – that we try to build and maintain.

Recognize That God Sees Your Life as A Great Matter:  Sounds a little prideful doesn’t it?   But when we look at Jesus on the cross – God’s Son dying for our sins in order to restore us to the Father – we begin to see just how great a matter our lives are to God.  We would be happy to live ruinous lives as long as the demands of the moment were being met.  But God wants so much more for us.  God is doing something in our lives – God is wisely handling our lives to move them towards something honorable, glorious and beautiful.  The truth is God is more concerned about our lives than we are.

Bring Your Fretting to Jesus:  What are we trying to maintain, fix, save, protect – this morning?  What is gnawing at you?   Go to Jesus in prayer – the one who has already sacrificed everything for your life, and tell him what your fears are – and believe that your life is a great matter to him – and still and quiet your soul.

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