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 131:1-3)

In Psalm 131 David talks about weaning his own soul, with the result that it becomes still and quiet within him.

When I think of an infant who isn’t weaned, I picture a crying child clamoring for the breast, absolutely refusing to be denied. An unweaned infant lacks humility, self-control, and the capacity to trust. Evidently, so do unweaned souls.

According to the first verse of this psalm, unweaned souls demand immediate answers to all questions and resolutions to all problems. The idea is that if God doesn’t perform on cue, there’ll be heck to pay—the unweaned soul either screams and crys, or perhaps becomes sullen and pouts. A common tactic of an unweaned soul is to imply to God that a defection from the faith would be completely justified if he doesn’t do what we want, and do it right now! Sort of the ultimate form of holding our breath until we turn blue!

According to the last verse of this psalm, the weaned soul is able to hope—to humbly, trustingly sit still until the Lord in his wisdom decides it’s time to act.

Over the years I’ve met people whose souls were weaned within them, and others whose souls were anything but. Frankly, I myself have passed through seasons during which my soul was able to sit still in hope, and other times when I behaved liked a self-aborbed, undisciplined infant who felt entitled to have God provide immediate answers to all my questions and resolutions to all my problems.

On the one hand, I can vouch for the fact that life is definitely better when one has weaned his or her soul. On the other, I can also verify that weaning one’s soul is no easy chore. In our book, Beyond the Bliss, Patti and I quote John Ortberg who has astutely observed that:

“[w]eaning is not a popular process. At least not for the ‘weanee’. Children rarely volunteer for it because it is both costly and painful. Weaning means learning to live in stillness with unfulfilled desires. It is the mark of maturity.”[1]

So how about it? Are you weary with all the demand-making, crying, clamoring, and pouting before God? Wouldn’t you like to possess a soul that is able to sit still and simply trust God to answer and act in his own good time? Wouldn’t you like to have a heart that’s filled with the kind of hope for the future that actually makes a difference in how we behave in the present?

Maybe it’s time to engage in some soul-weaning.

I’m praying for you, whoever you are, right now. May all of us experience empowerment by Christ’s Spirit to humble ourselves before God and learn to trust, to wait, to hope.

Something to think about.

[1] John Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 42.