I have calmed and quieted myself, . . . I am content. Psalm 131:2
I set my phone down, weary of the constant bombardment of images, ideas, and notifications that the little screen broadcasted. Then, I picked it up and turned it on again. Why?
In his book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr describes how the internet has shaped our relationship with stillness: “What the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”
Living life on a mental jet ski doesn’t sound healthy. But how do we begin to slow down, to dive deeply into still spiritual waters?
In Psalm 131, David writes, “I have calmed and quieted myself” (v. 2). David’s words remind me that I have responsibility. Changing habits starts with my choice to be still—even if I must make that choice over and over again. Slowly, though, we experience God’s satisfying goodness. Like a little child, we rest in contentment, remembering that He alone offers hope (v. 3)—soul-satisfaction that no smartphone app can touch and no social media site can deliver.
How does technology influence your ability to rest quietly before God? Does your phone contribute to your contentment? Why or why not?
Father, the world is awash in distraction that doesn’t satisfy my soul. Please help me trust You to fill me with genuine contentment.
The language of Psalm 131 can seem a bit odd. Isn’t the psalmist a little prideful to declare to God that he’s not prideful? But the psalmist isn’t after praise for his humility. Instead, the words of the song communicate great confidence in knowing his station in life and being satisfied with it.
Rather than aspire to things beyond his reach, the psalmist looks to what’s in front of him. He finds contentment in quiet and peace, an idea the NIV brings to the front by translating verse 2—which reads literally, “like a weaned child I am on myself”—as “like a weaned child I am content.”
In the end, the psalmist encourages Israel to hope in Yahweh. Contentment with our lot in life—neither looking higher or lower—comes from our confidence in God, because He is enough.