Lord, I am not high-minded;
I have no proud looks.
I do not exercise myself in great matters
which are too high for me.

But I refrain my soul, and keep it low,
like as a child that is weaned from his mother;
yea, my soul is even as a weaned child.

O Israel, trust in the Lord
from this time forth forevermore.

—Psalm 131


I love this psalm. Charles Spurgeon said of it that it is one of the shortest psalms to read and one of the longest to learn. It’s deceptive in its simplicity. Or perhaps its very simplicity makes it inordinately difficult for those of us who don’t live as weaned children in relation to God.

I must confess that I am high-minded, and sometimes I’m proud of my high-mindedness, as if it makes me a special species of human, the depth of the thoughts I think. They impress me, anyway, those thoughts. Which recognition alone ought to give me pause and induce me to lower my gaze—or at least laugh at myself!

I must also confess that I frequently exercise myself in matters too great for me. It’s a cultural tendency. We set ourselves up as prosecutor, judge, and jury (just spend a few moments on Twitter and see what I mean) without stopping to consider the insane arrogance of such a presumption, to remember how very little we know—how very little we are—and thus how utterly unqualified we are to render any kind of judgment, let alone a just one.

This psalm helps shrink us back to size; it restores us to a proper perspective. It reminds us who we are and Whose we are: we are a weaned child and we belong to God.

A weaned child is small, not totally helpless, but mostly helpless. She can do some things: toddle, say a few words, smile, laugh, hug, hit. But most things she cannot do: read, count, reason, make her own food, walk very far. She is dependent on older, more capable people for her life and well-being. In all this we are like weaned children in relation to God.

Small children also have a limited scope of interest. They live in the immediate, the present, wholly absorbed by what is here, now. In this way also we are to be like weaned children, living in the present moment, not fearing the future or recalling the past (except as it brings us pleasure).

love and adore

But there is something more, and more profound: a weaned child adores her mother. I have four children, and all of them adored me. That was the adoration of trust, simple and genuine and without reservation. I was the well-spring of their beings and the source of their continued life, not because they fed on my body as they had when they were babies but because they relied upon me to care for them and love them, to provide food when they were hungry, hold them when they were scared or hurt, bathe them when they were dirty, and sing them to sleep when they were tired. I was never far from their thoughts, for I was the fundamental fact of their existence, which tethered their lives to mine in a bond of love and trust.

It is in this way that we, too, are to be as weaned children with our Lord. We are to adore Him as a small child adores his mother. Evelyn Underhill, in The Spiritual Life, says adoration is

a confident reliance on the immense fact of His presence, everywhere and at all times, pressing on the soul and the world by all sorts of paths and in all sorts of ways, pouring out on it His undivided love.

Over the past two years I have come to believe—no, it’s deeper than belief—I have come to know that we cannot trust God or grow in His grace and goodness unless we receive His love. It sounds so simple, and it is. But we live much of our lives turned inward, looking at ourselves, like turtles in our shells, and God’s ever-present love falls on our hard hearts and runs off like rain off a rock. Eventually, if it rains hard enough and long enough, the rock will wear away, but in the meantime, we are trapped in the smallness of our own lives, our own frightened and loveless existence.

I see this every week in my own children who are still young enough to curl up in little balls when they are hurt or angry or ashamed. I know that ball, from the inside. It is self-loathing and self-pity and self-justification. It is anger and defensiveness and shame. All I can do when they are armored like this, curved in on themselves, their knees to their chests, their hearts in hiding, is lie beside them and love them until they relax their hold on their knees and turn to receive my embrace.

And that is what God is doing all the time. He is our perfect mother, the matrix of our existence, the ground of our being, without whose sustaining breath we would simply cease to be. He is the love that surrounds us from our birth, the everlasting arms wrapped round us. Everywhere present always, He pours out his undivided love on each one of us, calling us out of our shells, out of ourselves, and into the wideness of Himself.

Underhill continues:

Awestruck delight in the splendour and beauty of God, the action of God and Being of God, in and for Himself alone, [i]s the very colour of life… This is adoration, not a difficult religious exercise, but an attitude of the soul.

The attitude of the weaned child as she leans on her mother’s chest, in simple adoration and utter trust, wrapped in her mother’s arms of love. May we lean deeper into God and open our hearts wider to receive all that He would give.


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K. C. Ireton / Posts / Blog
K.C. Ireton is the author of two books and the mother of four children. An avid reader, she believes that a day without books is a day without meaning or joy. She also likes food, especially when her husband prepares it. Vive le weekend!
  • Jody Collins
    Jody Collins

    This made me do a slow exhale…….so much to ponder here. Thank you.

    May 29th, 2017 15:18
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      K.C. Ireton

      Thank you, Jody. We all need to do more slow exhaling, yes?

      May 29th, 2017 16:11
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    Summer Rae

    Dearest Miss K. C.,

    Thank you so much for sharing your words with us. It is so easy to worry, comforting almost… to trust in our own “shell.” Knowing that if you stood back and opened up to letting someone else protect you there is a chance you could get hurt, to say the least, is intimidating. I am beyond grateful that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to continuously rain down on me with His love. Placing people in my life who help me to see that and never give up on encouraging, challenging and loving me. Thank you again and I pray your day is blessed!

    This side of Heaven,
    Summer Rae

    May 30th, 2017 19:08
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      K.C. Ireton

      Thank you, Summer Rae. May we both be bold to receive God’s ever outpouring love.

      June 6th, 2017 13:13
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    Rebecca Ifland

    Dearest Kimberlee, this made my eyes wet and my shoulders loose(r). Thank you.

    June 1st, 2017 12:35
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      K.C. Ireton

      Thank you, Becca. May the love of God that surrounds you fill you till your shoulders are loose (no -er!). xox.

      June 6th, 2017 13:10
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    K.C. – this is so beautiful and I found myself breathing deep and thanking God that He pursues, He soothes, He squeezes us until we begin to let go of all we hold that hurts, and hand it over to be replaced with Him and all He is that is good.
    I did want to say that while I know the phrase “He is our perfect mother” has a poetic and theological purpose, it makes me uncomfortable in its similarity to some very unbiblical theology that’s being espoused. He is like a perfect mother, but He is very definitely He. I know you were not “going there,” but I’ve seen some be led astray by teaching that is unfaithful to Who God says He is. So thankful for your post and always challenged and encouraged by GraceTable and its beautiful call, and clicking over to read more!

    July 1st, 2017 7:52
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      K.C. Ireton

      Dear Angela, Thank you so much for your graciousness here. I very much appreciate your giving me the benefit of the doubt in the midst of your concern and discomfort. In this day and age, that is a rare, and thus all the more beautiful, response. Bless you.

      July 3rd, 2017 18:03

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