The Step of Dependence
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Psalm 131:

Psalms 131

1Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
2Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
3Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.

The Longest Lesson to Learn

You and I, as Christians, should grow. We should take a new step and we should claim a new height periodically in our Christian experience. We have called this series of psalms, beginning with Psalm 120 and concluding with Psalm 134, the “Pilgrim's Staircase,” and we have given a name to each of the steps. As we have climbed the staircase we have described the particular experience related to the particular step upon which we stood.

We will not review each step over which we have come; but, as we study Psalm 131, I would like to express, for the sake of alliteration and as an aid to your memory, that we stand upon the Step of Dependence. In a general way, I would like to suggest that this is the briefest of the psalms, but the lesson of which it takes the longest to learn. Perhaps that is the reason why we find it so far up in the staircase.

If you keep in mind that this staircase concludes with Psalm 134, you realize that this step is only three steps from the top. We have been climbing a long time, and you might think that we would learn this particular lesson long before this. But the common expeerience is that it is not learned long before this. It is often learned late in our Christian experiences, and we may wish that we had learned it a great deal sooner.

Three Conditions

The Step of Dependence which we will be considering is taken from an experience in the life of David. I believe it comprised three conditions, and I suggest that you use these conditions as a basis of our meditation.

A Disturbed State

I suggest to you that David went through a disturbed state as described in verse 1. Notice it again, please:

Psalms 131

1Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.

That verse indicates that there was a time when he did. There was a time when David's heart was haughty and his eyes were lofty. There was a time when he exercised himself in great matters, matters that were too high for him. As a result, he was greatly disturbed.

A Difficult State

That disturbed state was difficult for him, because he did love the Lord and he could not dismiss these things with a shrug of the shoulders. He had to come to grips with them. He had to come to a solution of his problem.

A description of the manner in which he came to the solution is described in verse 2. I have referred to it as a difficult state, because if any of you know anything about weaning children, you know how difficult it can be. David says in verse 2:

Psalms 131

2Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.

A Desirable State

Now, the last state into which David came is described in verse 3, and for want of a better word, I have referred to it as a desirable state. He explained that he wanted everyone else to do what he had learned to do. He says in verse 3:

Psalms 131

3Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.

A Haughty Heart

As we examine that time in David's life described in verse 1, let us look at some of the individual words and phrases that we might realize how deeply disturbed he was. Look, please, at the phrase in verse 1, “a haughty heart.” Yes, David had a haughty heart. What is a haughty heart?

I suggest to you that the word “haughty” is a translation of the Hebrew word gabahh and is translated a number of different ways elsewhere in the Scriptures.

A Proud Spirit

Turn to the book of Ecclesiastes and notice chapter 7, verse 7:

Ecclesiastes 7

7Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth the heart.
8Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.

Notice, please, the word “proud” in verse 8. It is the same word which is translated from the Hebrew word gabahh , which is translated “haughty” in Psalm 131. “A proud spirit.” I want you to notice that word “proud” in its context here. Why did the psalmist say, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning?” Because it is good when things get over with, that's why. Why did he say that it is better for a thing to get over with? “Because,” he said, “I'm proud.” “Because”, he said, “I'm not patient.”

Let me remind you that a proud person is not a patient person. A haughty person is not a patient person. And we remind you that a patient person is one who is willing to wait upon the Lord.

A Heart Lifted Up

Turn in your Bibles, please, to II Chronicles and notice a very important illustration of the meaning of the word “haughty.” It is translated by the phrase “lifted up” in II Chronicles, chapter 26, verse 16. Notice the verse, please:

II Chronicles 26

16But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.

This passage of Scripture concerns King Uzziah who was a faithful king who loved the Lord and was obedient to Him in his weaker days, but who seemed to forget the Lord in his more prosperous days. “His heart was lifted up,” and that is what a haughty heart is–a heart that is lifted up.

You may say, “Yes, I know that; I know what the meaning of the word 'haughty' is.” However, I want you to see it in its context. Do you see what a heart that is lifted up is? A heart that is lifted up is a heart that disregards the Word of God.

There is also another individual described close by in chapter 32 of II Chronicles who had a heart that was lifted up. His name was Hezekiah. Notice in verse 25 of that chapter:

II Chronicles 32

25But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.

Notice the phrase “lifted up” and notice the context. Hezekiah did not render unto God according to the benefit that had been done him. What was that benefit? Hezekiah was going to die. He was sick, and he said, “Lord, let me live. and if You let me live I will do thus and so.” God said, “All right.” He took Hezekiah at his word. When Hezekiah got well he forgot all about his promise to God. So typical of so many of us, isn't it? Beloved, that is what a haughty heart is. It is a heart that is proud and not willing to wait upon God. A haughty heart doesn't care what God's Word says, and he doesn't think that the promises he makes to God are worth anything at all.

Lofty Eyes

Look again at Psalm 1313 and notice verse 1 again:

Psalms 131

1Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty…..

We would like to suggest to you that a haughty heart very often gives way to lofty eyes. What are lofty eyes? What does the word “lofty” mean? It is a translation of the Hebrew word ruwm , which is translated a number of different ways in the Scriptures.

One particular way that is expecially applicable at the moment is found in Psalm 19, verse 13, where David prayed, “Lord, deliver thy servant from presumptuous sins.” The word “lofty” is translated by the word “presumptuous.” Do you see what lofty eyes are? Eyes that presume! Eyes that presume to stand a mortal man in the presence of a holy God and say to God, “I'll do as I please about certain things.” Or in the words of our text, “a haughty heart and lofty eyes encourage people to engage in a spiritual exercise which is not good.”

A Profitable Spiritual Exercise

Now, there are some spiritual exercises that are good. For example, in Hebrews 12:11 we are told of a spiritual exercise that would profit every one of us. Do you remember the words?

Hebrews 12

11Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous [not easy to take] :nevertheless [but] afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

If there is some discipline in your life, then you should be exercised by it. It is good spiritual exercise when it comes from a contrite heart–a heart that recognizes that God has a right in the individual life.

This spiritual exercise that is described in Psalm 131 is not a good spiritual exercise. Do you get my point? The kind of exercise that is not good is the kind of exercise that results in an aimless wandering about–aimmless walking about.

Why is there this wandering? Why is there this aimless walking about? Look again at our text and I think you will see the reason for it. It was related to the things about which David was exercised. He was exercised in great matters and in things which were too high for him. “Great matters” and “things too high” are phrases which are used in apposition one with another.

Things That Are Too High

Let us meditate upon the words “too high.” What are these things which were too high? May I suggest to you that the phrase “too high” is a translation of one Hebrew word which is related to miraculous things, things beyond the scope of human imagination.

For example, the word is translated “hard” in Genesis 18:14. God told Sarah that she would have a child even though she was well past age, as was Abraham. Sarah said, “Well, that can't be; there is no human way it can be.” The angel of the Lord said, “That's right, but is anything too hard for God?”

Do you see the context? “Things too high” are things that are related to God's business, not to your business nor to mine. In Judges, 6:13, this same word is translated “miracle.” And do you remember what is recorded in Deuteronomy 29:29? Let us read the verse:

Deuteronomy 29

29The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

The word translated “secret” in this verse is our very same word.

In the book of Job, chapter 42, verse 3, we hear Job reaching the same place that David reached. When Job came to the end of the road, he said, “I'm wrong. I've been exercising mmyself in things too wonderful for me.”

Beloved, this is why David was disturbed. He was exercised about things for which he would never have the answer. He was exercised about things for which he would never have the revelation. He was impatient. He said, “I have the answer, and he didn't. Then he said, ”I can get it,“ and he failed. We began to be angry with God and say, ”Why? Why does this thing happen when I don't have the answer.

Personal Experiences

Beloved, Let me ask you this, “Hasn't there been something since you have known the Lord that you didn't understand, something for which you didn't have the answer, and as a result you got a bit impatient with God?” If you have climbed very far up this spiritual staircase that we've been discussing, you would be able to answer in the affirmative.

Perhaps some of you may have been haughty and lofty and have said, “I'll find the answer and I'll find out what the real story is. I believe there is an answer for everything.” Beloved, there is an answer for everything, but the answer may not be what you want it to be. The answer may simply be related to a condition in which David found himself in verse 3. This was a desirable condition indeed, but before he got to that desirable state, he went through a difficult time.

Complete Dependence Upon God

The second verse describes the process through which David went and through which I believe every child of God is going to have to go through sooner or later. If you shrug your shoulders and say it doesn't matter, then you don't need what I am going to say to you. However, if you are thinking, you need what I am going to say to you. And that is, you are going to have to come down off your lofty perch and lower those lofty eyes and reach the place of complete dependence upon God. It isn't easy. That is the reason I think the psalmist chose the second verse to describe it. Look at it again:

Psalms 131

2Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.

Notice the phrase “as a child that is weaned of his mother.” That is the difficult part. “I've been acting like a child that is being weaned of his mother.” The good part is in the last statement of that verse, “my soul is even as a weaned child.”

Yielding to God

It is an interesting thing to me that the word for “weaned” in this psalm is a translation of a Hebrew word which elsewhere in the Scriptures is translated by the word “yield.” You see, when a baby has been weaned, he has yielded his right to that three o'clock bottle. That's why God uses the illustration. God says to you and to me, “You exercise yourself about things that are too great and that are too high. You exercise yourself about things which are none of your business. The only way you are going to find any peace is to yield to My wisdom and to My knowledge.”

Did you notice what the psalmist says in verse 2? After the weaning process, he says, “My soul is even as a weaned child because I have quieted myself.” That word “quieted” is translated by the word “rest” in Psalm 37:7.

Depending Upon God

Have you been weaned spiritually? Have you learned to rest in the Lord? It isn't easy. You see, Beloved, a weaned Christian is one who has learned to rest in the Lord. A weaned Christian is one who is willing to stand still when everyone else is rushing ahead. If you are weaned spiritually and are resting in the Lord, if you are standing still and depending upon Him, you'll find a lot of other folk who aren't standing still. You'll find a lot of other folk who are not resting, and you will find that often they will want you to move for no other reason than that they are moving. The fact that you are not moving hampers their process. There is something about a person who can quietly rest in the Lord when someone else is in a dither. It irritates the person who is in a dither. They want you to go on so they can feel better about it.

Trusting the Lord

The psalmist says, “I've been weaned. I've learned to depend upon the Lord.” He reached that desirable state that is described in verse 3 where he gave advice to the nation of Israel and to all of us:

Psalms 131

3Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.

Look at the word “hope.” It is a translation of the Hebrew word yachal , which means “to trust.” Trust the Lord.

Is there something that you don't know about, and you can't find the answer to it? Lower your lofty eyes and trust in the Lord. Is there something that is disturbing you, and you are ready to go to pieces over it? Lower your lofty eyes and depend upon the Lord.

I think the paraphrased translation of this particular psalm sums it up in a simple word that I trust will remain with you. It reads:

“Lord, I'm not proud and haughty. I don't pretend to know it all. I am quiet now before the Lord. Yes, my begging has been stilled.”

Will you learn to depend upon Him, Beloved. It is the secret of peace.


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