I Hold Myself in Quiet and Silence

As a critical and rationalistic person I have always been uncomfortable with Psalm 131.

I like to push against the mysteries of faith. Because, truth be told, I don't like mysteries. I want answers to my questions.

Consequently, some might argue that, theologically, I push too hard. So hard that I end up holding to some answers and ideas that are theologically suspect. Perhaps a quicker embrace of mystery would have been able to preserve my orthodoxy.

That seems to be the recommendation of Psalm 131:
My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
You can see my problem. I do concern myself with great matters. Perhaps these matters are too wonderful for me, but I do concern myself with them.

But the other day I encountered Psalm 131 in the New Jerusalem translation. Here's how it reads: 
Yahweh, my heart is not haughty,
I do not set my sights too high.
I have taken no part in great affairs,
in wonders beyond my scope.

No, I hold myself in quiet and silence,
like a little child in its mother's arms,
like a little child, so I keep myself.

Let Israel hope in Yahweh
henceforth and for ever.
The phrase the caught me was "I hold myself in quiet and silence." For some reason that phrasing brought to light what I take now to be the contemplative core of the poem.

Becoming like a child is learning how to hold oneself in quiet and silence. More, quiet and silence is like a mother's embrace--a location of nurturing, protection, and love.

Quiet and silence is the embrace of a mother.

In sum, my attitude toward Psalm 131 has changed. I don't read the psalm anymore as a slap down for asking hard and penetrating theological questions. I now read the psalm as a call for contemplation, a call to hold myself in quietness and silence. A quietness and silence that, I believe, sustains faith in the face of one's critical interrogations and investigations.

To goal isn't to stop those questions but, rather, to make space in your life for quiet and silence. To spend time in a mother's embrace.     

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