Psalm 131: Contentment & Israel’s Hope in the Lord :: By Ron Ferguson

“This is one of my sermon messages, but I want to put it on RR because the last section of it relates to hope and Israel. It is verse 3 of that Psalm.”


Psalm 131:1 “O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty. Nor do I involve myself in great matters or in things too difficult for me.”

Psalm 131:2 “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul. Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.”

Psalm 131:3 “O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.”

We are nearing the end of these Songs of Ascent and come today to this short Psalm, just three verses that express the quietness in David’s soul. You remember these Psalms were sung as the pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem for the feasts, singing as they ascended to Jerusalem yearly. We will take each verse separately in this message today.

Psalm 131:1 “O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty. Nor do I involve myself in great matters or in things too difficult for me.”

This is a most interesting testimony and one I am positive not one of us would give. David writes under inspiration of the Holy Spirit who is responsible for all scripture, so the verses contain the truth from the Spirit of God.

What a testimony! There are three parts to the verse: one for the heart, one for the eyes, and one for the way of life. David could state the fact exactly as it was, but if we said what David did, then we’d be lying. Remember David was a special man before his God – Samuel spoke these words to Saul: 1 Samuel 13:14 “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself A MAN AFTER HIS OWN HEART, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.”

What Samuel uttered is confirmed by Paul in the New Testament – Acts 13:22 “After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART, who will do all My will.'”

David was a man after the heart of God and sought the Lord all the days of his life. He is the only believer in the Bible about whom this is said. Normally, a man’s testimony of himself does not stand, but when God writes the Bible, things are drastically different.

I found the following very interesting, and it comes from Ron Edmondson of Immanuel Baptist Church:

The following words describe the heart of David as seen in his own writings:

(All verses New International Version)

HumblePsalm 62:9

Reverent Psalm 18:3

RespectfulPsalm 31:9

Trusting Psalm 27:1

LovingPsalm 18:1

DevotedPsalm 4:7

RecognitionPsalm 9:1

FaithfulPsalm 23:6

Obedient Psalm 119:34

Repentant Psalm 25:11

(End of quotation)

Psalm 131 verse 1 speaks of a proud heart and proud, conceited eyes. That sums up roughly most of the world today. From government officials and politicians to the ordinary person walking the street, lives without God are controlled by the old nature, and the old nature is always sinful. I won’t repeat all the descriptions of the old nature in Galatians 5:19-21, but those items are what control the unsaved person.

Speaking of the mouth and eyes, when they are corrupted, great evil can come. We see it in dictators and ruthless men speaking wickedness and eyes that survey what to subdue, but the most dictatorial and ruthless of them all will be the Antichrist/world leader who is coming. This is a description of him from Daniel – Daniel 7:20 “and the meaning of the ten horns that were on its head, and the other horn which came up and before which three of them fell, namely, that horn WHICH HAD EYES AND A MOUTH UTTERING GREAT BOASTS, and which was larger in appearance than its associates.”

That is confirmed also by this verse – Revelation 13:5 “There was given to him A MOUTH SPEAKING ARROGANT WORDS and blasphemies, and authority to act for forty-two months was given to him.”

Through the Spirit of God, David confirmed he was not like that, for his heart was after the heart of God. The second part of the verse, to me in my understanding, is that David sought simplicity, not involvement in challenging and difficult matters. “Nor do I involve myself in great matters or in things too difficult for me.” Is that the secret to living a contented life?

People today do not live contented lives. They rush around with involvement in all sorts of things. I don’t intend listing these extraneous activities, but I see them in lives. Worry and stress brought about by complex matters remove peace and contentment. I am reminded of the tree mentioned in Psalm 1 – Psalm 1:3: “And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

That tree lives in contentment, not worrying about all other matters that don’t concern it. It just rests contentedly by the streams of water, tapping into its life-giving flow. I am sure if some of us pulled back on all the activities we are involved in and relaxed in the Lord, then we would know contentment. The previous verse in Psalm 1 mentioned the man’s delight in the law of the Lord. No greater contentment comes than from the word of God. David knew that.

I am old, and maybe because of that, I have more time to reflect on the things of the Lord, but I do know this – the coming of the Lord to take His people away is so close, and we don’t have time to waste on things of no eternal value. You all want peaceful, fruitful lives. Don’t get involved in difficult and complicated issues, but rather spend time in God’s word, delighting yourself with the joy of it and the edification it brings.


Psalm 131:2 “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul. Like a weaned child rests against his mother, my soul is like a weaned child within me.”

The theme of a contented and composed heart continues. What a picture is contained here! It is so deep, it is hard to know where to start, but I would like to begin here with this story not long before the Lord’s crucifixion:

Luke 10:38-42 “Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations, and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do ALL THE SERVING ALONE? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, YOU ARE WORRIED AND BOTHERED ABOUT SO MANY THINGS, but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for MARY HAS CHOSEN THE GOOD PART, which shall not be taken away from her.”

In this account, the two sisters were engaged in contrasting activity. Martha was busy, running around trying to get the meal ready, and she had no help. On the other hand, Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to Him. Now what do we make of this?

Was Mary being lazy, leaving Martha to be overworked? Should Martha have been sitting with Mary, listening to Jesus? We know the answer to the first question was, No, Mary was not being lazy. As to the second question, we do not know. That was, for certain, the proper place to be, for Jesus said that Mary had chosen the good part, NOT the better part. Does that mean Martha chose the bad part? Not at all. I think it means all that activity was not necessary just then. Mary was in contentment and composed, but Martha was frazzled and burdened.

Those two positions we just looked at are our experiences all so often. There are times we are composed with the Lord, but there are other times we are needlessly running around and missing out on the good things the Lord wants to give us.

Returning to the Psalm 131 verse, this began the verse, “Surely I have composed and quieted my soul.” Do not miss the significance of the “I have.” It is important that we take responsibility for what we are and what we can achieve (through the Lord, of course).

I am sure the Lord does not want us to be stressed out with rising blood pressure and anxiety. He desires us to be composed and have a quietness in our souls. Does that mean cutting back on what is unnecessary? Why might you say – you are too busy to attend a prayer meeting and Bible study? Is it because you are engaged in things too difficult and unnecessary?

There is a small incident in the gospels we don’t hear much about. This is the setting – Mark 6:30-32 “The apostles gathered together with Jesus, and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘COME AWAY BY YOURSELVES TO A LONELY PLACE AND REST A WHILE.’ (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.) They went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.

The Lord knew how necessary it was for the disciples to rest after all their activity. The Lord made us, so He knows how our bodies function. Resting in the Lord is actually a privilege and allies itself with the sheep that lie down in green pastures. The sheep can do that only because their shepherd is in control and has led them there.

The rest of verse 2 tells of a weaned child resting against its mother. Then it says the soul of David is like that. It is all about contentment. When a child is being nurtured by its mother for a year or up to 3 years, it has learned dependence on its mother without even thinking about it. It is natural. Then, when the child is weaned, it rests against the mother because it has learned dependence and trust. Are we like that with the Lord? Are we content in Him in all circumstances?

Is it bothersome to the Lord for us to come with our problems? Do we offend Him by not showing initiative and rushing forward into action?

Emphatically, the answer is NO.

Consider what is behind this verse – Matthew 11:28-29 “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall find rest for your souls.”

This invitation is one of love, one of first interests, not of last resorts. The Lord loves His own to come in dependence, for the loving Father loves His children to rest in Him.

I think some churches have so many activities planned and operating that some servants are worn out with all the Martha-like activities.

We need more retreats and “coming aside to rest.” We need to learn more of resting in confidence and contentment so we can commune in quietness with the Lord and get to know Him better. Remember, activity in the Lord’s name could be a barrier that stops us from knowing Jesus better!


We are going to the last verse – Psalm 131:3 “O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever.”

The words now are addressed to Israel, and this is given under inspiration, remember, so Israel is Israel! It is not the Church; it cannot be spiritualized away or allegorized away. Covenant theology is in serious error when it does that and will be answerable for wiping away the covenant promises to Israel.

Do you see the end of the verse – “FOREVER”? Forever is forever, not until the Church came into being.

What does it mean to be saved forever? It certainly does not mean that in a few thousand years, the forever will stop and we sink away into hell or some place. Forever is forever! It is the same with Israel. God’s promises for the nation are forever. They will never fail.

In verse 3, the “hope” connects with “forever.” Israel’s history has been checkered, with times when they trusted the Lord and times when they departed in apostasy. They were unfaithful, but God never is unfaithful. His promises will not fail.

Look at this promise still awaiting fulfillment which will happen at the Second Coming – Genesis 15:18 “On that day THE LORD MADE A COVENANT WITH ABRAM, saying, ‘To your descendants I have given this land FROM THE RIVER OF EGYPT AS FAR AS THE GREAT RIVER, THE RIVER EUPHRATES.'”

God’s covenants are everlasting. God has never broken or changed a covenant given to Israel, and those who steal away Israel’s covenants, as covenant theology does, need to be ashamed, for God is not pleased.

Hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever. “This time” is the time of David when the Psalm was written, and there was more hope then than now. Israel sank into apostasy and idolatry and was overthrown, but 70 years later, they returned from Babylon in hope. There was hope and expectation around at the time of Christ’s birth as the expectant Messiah was to come. He did come, but unfaithfulness and unrighteousness wanted Him to set up His kingdom to please their lusts and sinful desires, so it did not happen then.

On one occasion, Paul was speaking to Agrippa and said this – Acts 26:6-7 “And now I am standing trial for THE HOPE OF THE PROMISE MADE BY GOD to our fathers – the promise to WHICH OUR TWELVE TRIBES HOPE TO ATTAIN as they earnestly serve God night and day. FOR THIS HOPE, O King, I am being accused by Jews.” This is the hope of Israel, that hope fitting verse 3 of Psalm 131, the same hope of Israel’s redemption. Do not miss the fact that the hope of the promise was alive in Paul also. It is not a myth or some mistaken belief. Those who write Israel off ought to be ashamed.

There is one more passage I think is relevant – Paul is applying hope in this passage to the Church, but the same principle contained here applies to Israel also. Romans 5:2-5 “through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we exult in hope of the glory of God. Not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance, and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, HOPE; and HOPE DOES NOT DISAPPOINT, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

You will notice that at the end of that passage, hope does not disappoint, but to get to that hope, you go through different stages: tribulation, perseverance, proven character, and then, finally, hope. That is the path many Christians take today with the foulest murders all over, especially in Africa and Islamic countries, even India and China. Millions of Christians have faced martyrdom in the last 15 years.

The nation of Israel has been the most persecuted nation on earth in all its history, and that persecution continues today with rapidly increasing ferocity. Hamas and Iran and its operatives want to drive Israel out. The United Nations is a hateful, vile body empowered by Satan and is bitterly opposed to Israel, with resolution after resolution condemning God’s people. Only about 7 nations now support Israel in UN votes. The Marxist Governments (Federal and State) in Australia hate Israel and allow gatherings of Palestinians with their chanting, “Gas the Jews” and “Death to the Jews” to exist, but they condemn gatherings of Christians.

Today, Israel is populated by a great range of beliefs, from absolute atheism to the ultra-orthodox Jews living in hope of the Messiah’s coming (and it will happen soon). It is that hope that is still alive and has always been. It is the hope David speaks of in Psalm 131. The current hope among the Jews of the world will not cease when the Church is taken away in the Rapture, but then that hope will spring into life as 144,000 Jewish evangelists preach the gospel of the kingdom in the Tribulation.

The following will happen:

Isaiah 49:22-23 “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I will lift up My hand to the nations and set up My standard to the peoples; and THEY WILL BRING YOUR SONS in their bosom, and your daughters will be carried on their shoulders. Kings will be your guardians, and their princesses your nurses. THEY WILL BOW DOWN TO YOU WITH THEIR FACES TO THE EARTH and lick the dust of your feet; and you will know that I am the LORD. THOSE WHO HOPEFULLY WAIT FOR ME WILL NOT BE PUT TO SHAME.'”

Those two powerful verses speak of the time when just after the Second Coming, the redeemed nations left in the world will rush the Jews back to Israel, and the world will bow down to acknowledge God’s nation. Then, it will be that those Israelites who hope in the Lord will see their hope realized.

What a joyous time that will be for God’s chosen people! Covenant theology will never destroy that event. Amen!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.