But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content. — Psalm 131:2
Rulers of ancient nations often considered themselves nothing less than gods. Pharaohs had their images forged into idols, and kings throughout history have flaunted their great powers. Life and death, wealth and poverty, freedom and slavery were all in the power of their hands. No wonder these men looked upon themselves as equal to or just below God and above all other men.
In sharp contrast, King David proclaims in Psalm 131 that he did not share this view in any way. Although he led the mighty army of Israel to countless victories, and even though he was the king of a great nation, David never saw himself as above others. He writes, “My heart is not proud, LORD . . . I do not concern myself with . . . things too wonderful for me” (v.1). King David knew his place – he was a servant of God and of His people.
David depicts his place in the world through an analogy, comparing himself to a nursing baby. Just as a baby is helpless and hungry without his mother, so too, David was vulnerable and lacking without divine assistance from God. David never thought that he was God; in fact, he knew that he was nothing without God. All that he had and all that he became were only the results of God’s kindness.
This brief psalm ends with David’s injunction that we should put our trust in the Lord because only God can sustain us. David implies that we are all like nursing babies gaining nourishment from a loving mother. It is foolish to trust in anything else when everything that we could ever need is available from our loving Parent.
The Jewish sages teach “more than the baby wants to nurse, the mother wants to feed.” When a child wants to nurse, he feels hunger. But when a mother is ready to feed her child and she can’t, she feels pain. A mother wants nothing more than to nourish her hungry child. So, too, God wants us to be happy and satisfied. But we can only receive sustenance from God as we remain close to Him.
Listen to King David and remember that we are all God’s children – He nourishes us, He sustains us. He alone is the source of all blessings.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President