Walking Humbly with Our God – Psalm 131
“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.”Psalm 131:1
Take a moment and read Psalm 131.
In A.D. 476 the Roman Empire fell. And into the chaotic morass that followed its fall St. Benedict moved to Rome. He relocated there in the late fifth century in hopes of receiving an academic education. But seeing the depravity of that fallen world he set about to live differently—to live his life in Christ. Over time others were attracted to his way of life and he formed the community that became the Order of Saint Benedict. Members of the Order live according to a simple rule based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And as the Rule of St. Benedict instructs, “Your way of acting should be different from worldly ways” (RSB 4:20).
Our lives are filled with potential worldly distractions. There is the internet, the worldwide web, social media, and the 24/7 news cycle. We carry the world on our hip or in our purse in the form of a smart phone. We cannot imagine being without immediate access to unlimited sources of information—information which may or may not be accurate. We have come to believe that the aphorism which Francis Bacon made famous in the sixteenth century is absolutely true: “knowledge is power.” But we are residents of the New Jerusalem. The only knowledge that brings absolute truth and ultimate power is the knowledge of God. Solomon said of God, “For to know you is complete righteousness, and to know your power is the root of immortality” (Wisdom 15:3). Some would say that we NEED to follow the news, that it is important for us to know what is going on in the world. But at what cost? Following secular news will provide us with a secular perspective. Our focus will be diverted from the heart of God to the mind of the world. This preoccupation then becomes a source of stress. It takes a toll on our hearts, minds, and bodies. How much time do you spend on the internet? How much time do you spend watching cable or network news? How much time do you spend on social media? And . . . how much time do you spend in the Word, prayer, and quiet time with God?
The Psalmist recognized that preoccupation with matters beyond his control was detrimental to his well-being. He recognized that his preoccupation must be in his relationship with God, pursuing God’s will. “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” The Psalmist might know what the governor’s decisions were, but he didn’t spend time questioning those decisions. He relished participation in communal worship, but was not overly concerned about which scrolls were read or songs were sung. He knew the walls were not completely restored, but he knew his part in that effort, and applied himself only to that work. It is simply a question of humility, not worrying about things beyond his control. When Micah prophesied to the Jews, he declared, “…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8).
Dwelling in the New Jerusalem means that we are to live in the world, but not in worldly ways. Our hope is not found in political decisions or technological inventions. We find our hope in God rather than in things of this world. Then we can say with the Psalmist, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul…”