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As we observed in our last devotion, to quiet and calm the human soul requires a heart that is not haughty. We must no longer hold to a vaulted opinion of ourselves. Our “eyes” should no longer be “lofty”; that is, we should rid ourselves of our unrealistic ambitions and expectations. Also, we should no longer “exercise” ourselves “in great matters” or “things too high for” us; that is, we should stop trying to figure out infinite things with our finite minds. Once we’ve gotten such a proper view of ourselves, of both our aptitude and astuteness, we’ll no longer have a poor view of others.

All of these elements, which are enumerated by David in verse 1 of this psalm, form the essentials for quieting and calming the human soul. They are the inevitable byproducts of a heart that is not haughty, as well as what makes it possible to quiet and wean the otherwise insatiable and irascible human soul.

When you no longer insist upon getting your own way, when you are content with what you have, when you are not envious of others or covetous of anything they have, when you no longer expect to be or do more than God has planned for you to be or do, and when you no longer fret over things you can’t figure out, you, like David, will be able to quiet and wean your soul. 

To say that the calming of the soul is easier said than done is the epitome of understatement. To know these rungs on the ladder to the majesty of calmness is one thing, to climb them is quite another. Here is where the painstaking, lifelong process begins. The head may swiftly and easily learn these truths, but for them to be truly realized in the heart and walked out in the life requires a lifetime of perseverance.

Someone once taught Michael Jordan how to shoot a basketball, just as someone once taught Chopin to play the piano and Vincent van Gogh to paint. However, it wasn’t till years later, after much work, sweat, and tears on their part, that these men scaled the summit of their professions and became the masters of their craft. Likewise, you may learn from Psalm 131 the essentials for calming your soul, but these truths will not immediately propel you to the summit of the majesty of calmness. Instead, they will merely serve as a map for your journey, an invaluable aid to you in keeping your daily spiritual bearings as you patiently and painstakingly climb over time to this lofty spiritual peak.

The majesty of calmness is not so much a matter of the head, but of the heart. Its truths can be learned in a short lesson, but its realization requires a lifelong ascent.

Don Walton