There is perhaps no more consistent theme in the Psalms that that of trust. Time and again, the psalmists express deep, abiding trust in the Lord. We rejoice in their grand statements of faith. We tweet them. We embroider them. We memorise them. But we don’t always practice them.
Trust is elusive. We know that we should trust God, but we find it difficult to do. It doesn’t come naturally. It must be learned. The psalmists themselves understood this. Psalm 131 is one place where this truth is evident. Written by David, this psalm offers us three steppingstones to trust. If we want to learn to trust God as David did, this psalm has great insight for us.
First, trust means that we don’t have all the answers—and we are not owed all the answers. “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 marvellous for me” (v. 1).
Does trust not often waver at the doorstep of ignorance? It is more difficult to trust when we don’t have the answers to our questions. Some years ago, a well-known and vocal atheist related that, while he was raised in a religious home, he came to reject all notion of God when his father fell sick and, despite his prayers, did not recover. He could not understand why God did not heal his father and, when he couldn’t find answers to his questions, the easiest solution was to reject God’s existence.
Trust doesn’t mean that we don’t ask questions; it does mean that we do not expect that God owes us answers to our questions. David realised that some things were simply “too great” and “too marvellous” for him. The first steppingstone to trust was to accept that he would not receive all the answers he wanted.
Second, trust means fostering contentment: “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me” (v. 2).
Having realised that he would not get the answers to all his questions, David grew to be content with what he did understand. Like a young child, freshly weaned from his mother, he didn’t need to be spoon-fed (or, in his imagery, breastfed) all the answers. He could lean on the Lord as a young child leans on his mother. Young children don’t understand all the dangers of the world around them but are content to trust that their parents will care for and protect them. David similarly committed to find his contentment in trusting the one who does have all the answers, even when he did not.
Third, trust means embracing hope: “O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore” (v. 3).
As it is commonly used, “hope” is little more than an optimistic wish. Biblically, hope is the confident expectation that God will faithfully fulfil his promises. Even when we fail to fully grasp what God is doing in the moment, hope allows us to look beyond the here and now to believe that he will do what he has promised to do. David didn’t have all the answers, but he had God’s promises and believed that he would fulfil those promises even if all the evidence in the present pointed to the contrary.
Trust is not natural. It must be learned. Psalm 131 offers us three important steppingstones to faith. As you reflect on this brief psalm today, allow it to remind you that, even when you don’t have all the answers, contentment and hope empower Christian trust.