Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Current Study: A to Z
Today’s Topic: Quietness
Today’s Scripture: Psalm 131:2 “I have stilled and quieted my soul.”
There is yet a deeper meaning to the idea of being still before God that we may know Him. It is reflected in two passages of Scripture, one which we have above. As we learned yesterday, it must be our priority to let down our guards and be still before the Lord that we may hear Him. But hearing Him is not enough. We must be doers of what we hear. That is the idea behind King David’s statement that he not only stilled His soul, but he also quieted his soul.
What’s the difference between being still and being quiet? I already alluded to part of the answer. To be still means to be able to listen. But the Hebrew word for quiet goes deeper. It means to not only be silent, but to make it permanent. It is used in a couple of places in Scripture to refer to the silence of the grave. In this case in Psalm 131, David refers to the silence of the soul. By that he means this – when I am still before the Lord so that I may hear Him, I also need to put my own desires, wants, and needs (my soul) to death so that I may respond in obedience to what I hear.
It is the nature of our soul to be self-sufficient because of sin. Our natural tendency is to weigh all information on the scales of personal benefit and then make our decision. We even do that with what we hear from God. We are proud people, and pride is the enemy of quietness. Before David makes his statement about being still and quiet he says, “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty.”(verse 1) He knows that pride is not the companion of obedience. It is not sufficient to be still and listen – that can be done in pride. Listening may be nothing more than courtesy without commitment. We may already have made our minds up about what we will do with what we hear. At the least, we tend to reserve the right to obey until after we have heard all the information. We have been still, but we have not quieted our soul.
This brings a whole new level of understanding for me to the book of James in the New Testament. James says, Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.
James continues later by saying What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? There’s more. Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Our pride causes us to claim faith but not act upon it. We have not quieted our souls. We have not died to self so that we might live for Him who saved us. We continue to struggle with sin because we have not surrendered to doing what we hear. James says it really boils down to surrender to God – to quiet our souls before Him. He says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Do you struggle with obedience? With sin? It may be because you have not set aside those things as worthless and meaningless to your life. You have chosen to believe, to whatever degree, the lie of Satan that says those things have some value to you. You have chosen to believe that sin will benefit you in some way. You have heard God’s word, but you have chosen to weigh those words on a scale that lies. Satan has his thumb on the scales of your soul, and he will not release his grip until you submit to God by quieting your soul. Put to death whatever it is of the flesh, and choose now to obey whatever God says. Be still, and be quiet. Put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever. (Psalm 131:3)