The Tranquil Peace of a Child

“Oh, to be that relaxed” I thought as I looked at the small child asleep in its mother’s arms. The child was perfectly at peace and completely at rest; oblivious to the chaos of the world around it. It is a state of being I long for. I want to tangibly experience what it feels like to be that settled and contented; to be that unaffected by the world that seems to want to engulf me in fret and anxiety.

King David knew what it was to experience such depth of tranquility. In Psalm 131:2 (NASB) he writes,

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.

There was nothing simple, quiet, casual, or leisurely about David’s life. Though anointed as the future king of Israel, he lived with the disdain of his brothers, faced the Philistine champion Goliath, was chased and hounded by King Saul who was intent on killing him (often to the exclusion of all other duties), and finally his own son (Absalom) led a coup to take the throne from him. Yet, he was able to testify of the quietness of his soul. The first verse of Psalm 131 gives us insight to how this could possibly be true.

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.

David was characterized by a spirit of humility and an attitude of submission by keeping his proper place before God. Great peace will surround us when we do not think more highly than we should or think of ourselves more often than we should. One of the greatest goals we can set for ourselves to be able to always look at ourselves, our true selves and our inner selves, in the mirror with vulnerable honesty.

David revealed the depth of his humility during the aforementioned rebellion by his son, Absalom. In 2nd Samuel 16:5-14 it is recorded that as David was fleeing Jerusalem, he was met by one of Saul’s descendants who began to curse him and throw rocks at him. One of David’s men asked for permission to go over and cut the insolent man’s head off but David refused.

Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over now and cut off his head.” But the king said, “What have I to do with you, O sons of Zeruiah? If he curses, and if the LORD has told him, ‘Curse David,’ then who shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’” Then David said to Abishai and to all his servants, “Behold, my son who came out from me seeks my life; how much more now this Benjamite? Let him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him. Perhaps the LORD will look on my affliction and return good to me instead of his cursing this day.” So David and his men went on the way; and Shimei went along on the hillside parallel with him and as he went he cursed and cast stones and threw dust at him.

Likewise, David did not grab at things that were not his to chase after. He recognized what was God’s alone to do. There is no greater example of this than when Saul was pursuing him, intent on killing him. While hiding from Saul, David had the chance to kill him. It would have been quick and easy. The threat would have been vanquished and the promised throne, which at the present seemed unlikely to ever be his, would be waiting for him to claim. First Samuel 24:6-7 records the pivotal moment.

So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD’s anointed.” David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way.

The crown was not for David to take. Instead, it was God’s to give to him when He saw fit.

David concludes this short, three verse Psalm with a cry for all of God’s people to heed.

O Israel, hope in the LORD

From this time forth and forever.

This is it, the secret to resting safe and secure from all alarm: Hope in the Lord! David was able to be humble because He knew God and trusted His Lord. He knew God was big and he was nothing. All he was, was from God’s hand.

He was also able to allow time to drag on with promises unfulfilled because his hope was not in what he could see or in what he was experiencing. His only hope was in the One who promised.

May we, as David, rest as a child holding fast in hope to the faithful word of our Savior and King who has promised to be with us until the end of the age (Matthew 28:2), has promised to exalt us at the proper time (1st Peter 5:6-7), and will one day return in glory (Revelation 19:11-21).

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