As he penned this brief psalm, perhaps David recalled the tranquility and intimacy of one of his own toddlers contentedly leaning against the breast of his mother, wanting nothing more than to be held close. David’s own life had been far from tranquil and he had often needed to find again that soul-deep calm in the presence of God. He had learned the hard way.
Twice in verse 2, David compares himself to a weaned child. Weaning is a difficult process. No toddler chooses to wean himself or herself. Mother and Father must deny him the very thing he craves. They must stay firm in the face of tears and wails and the child’s refusal to be comforted in any other way. Meanwhile, Baby, feeling unloved and insecure, panics and cries for the discomfort of hunger, or for fear of the parent’s absence or simply for the lack of instant gratification. But weaning is an important process in growing up. The child must learn that she will be fed by other means, that mother and father are never far away and that her needs will be met in ways she couldn’t even imagine before. Eventually the tempest subsides as maturity grows. The toddler no longer demands to be treated like an infant. The child can now begin to enjoy the intimacy of simply leaning on Mama’s lap and enjoying the closeness of her presence.
We begin our Christian journey as spiritual infants, wanting and expecting that God will grant us whatever we want as soon as we run to Him. After all, He is the Provider. Our relationship to our Heavenly Father is all about “Me.” But then there comes a time when God doesn’t seem quite so close, when our prayers are not being answered quite so quickly or not in the way that we wanted. We may even wonder where God is and why He is not giving us what we have asked for. That is when God is weaning us. He is growing us toward spiritual maturity.
(We struggle with the same barriers to God’s presence with which David struggled: pride (the deep hidden belief that the world revolves around “Me”), haughty eyes (thinking too much of myself and too little of every-one else), and ambition (concerning myself with great matters that are out of my control or none of my business). It takes effort and self-discipline to break our inclination toward these attitudes, but when we allow God to wean us from their grip, our focus shifts. We begin to mature spiritually. No longer are we consumed by the self-centered desires of human nature. Our focus becomes God-centered. We can enjoy the closeness of His presence without worry or fear. We can rest secure in God, knowing that every need and every circumstance will be met in His way and in His time.
Someday soon James will be completely weaned. He will begin to develop a new attitude toward his mother, loving her not only for the needs she meets, but also for who she is. But for now, as James’s Grandmother and caregiver, I delight that the most precious moments of every day are the moments when James runs to me and climbs up into my lap, not wanting anything other than just to feel close and be loved. I am sure that God feels the same sense of delight and intimacy in us when we come to Him not wanting anything other than to spend time and be content in His presence. We come like a weaned child. What better way to worship? What better way to glorify our Heavenly Father? Psalm 147:11 tells us “The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.” God takes His greatest pleasure in us when we find our greatest pleasure in Him, when we love Him for His own sake.
Here I am again God, like a little child needing to find comfort. Help me to remember that more than all those things that I ask for, what I really need is You. Let me climb into Your lap and know that You are holding me close. Help me to quiet myself, remembering that even when I cannot feel Your Presence, You are still near. You are still faithful. Just as surely as a nursing mother would not forget her child, You have not forgotten me (Isaiah 49:15). Only in You is my soul at rest.
- Janice Newhard
Community Baptist Church, Plainfield, NH, and their interim pastor Robert Fisher
First Baptist Church, Plaistow and their pastor Aaron Goodro
Middle Street Baptist Church, Portsmouth and their pastor Christopher Dunaway