Tehillim / Psalms 131, ספר תהילים קלא, Part 2, A discussion on Haughtiness

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In this week’s study from Tehillim / Psalms 131:1-3, the psalm opens saying, א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד יְהֹוָה | לֹא-גָבַהּ לִבִּי וְלֹא-רָמוּ עֵינַי וְלֹא-הִלַּכְתִּי | בִּגְדֹלוֹת וּבְנִפְלָאוֹת מִמֶּנִּי: 131:1 O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. (NASB) The psalmist opens with a declaration that his heart is not proud. The lifting of the eyes is a term implying pride as in the proud look. He follows with not having haughty eyes. The haughty eyes is mentioned in Mishley / Proverbs 6:17 and in Mishley / Proverbs 30:10 saying, “There is a generation, oh how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.” If we think about the generation spoken of here in the text that is proud and lofty in their thoughts, how applicable is this for our generation today? The psalmist states that he does not involve himself in great matters or difficult things. This sounds a lot like what Paul was writing in 2 Corinthians 4:18, to not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. The concept of great matters may be related to the things of the world, as it is connected to pride and the pursuit of great success at work, or in politics, or business, or some other form of worldly activity. Not getting involved in great matters may be related to being humble. Having the ability to solve difficult tasks has the capability of increasing pride in one’s life. The Psalmist continues saying the following, ב אִם-לֹא שִׁוִּיתִי | וְדוֹמַמְתִּי נַפְשִׁי כְּגָמֻל עֲלֵי אִמּוֹ כַּגָּמֻל עָלַי נַפְשִׁי: 131:2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. (NASB) One way to quiet the soul is to recognize it is the Lord God Almighty who is our only refuge and strength. We tell the Lord that He is our peace, our joy, our hope, and everything. He is our salvation, He has set us free, He has become our dwelling place because He has delivered us from our troubles and our enemies. The Lord as our everything leads us to trust and quiet our souls. This kind of comfort is paralleled to the weaned child in his mother’s arms. The soul is as the child being able to trust his mother having no fear. The psalm concludes saying, ג יַחֵל יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶל-יְהֹוָה מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם: 131:3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.(NASB) The psalmist tells all of Israel the Lord is the One in whom she can trust saying, מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם “from now and on into eternity.” The Lord is our hope indeed for our redemption is only possible by His mercy and forgiveness which comes from heaven.

עברית Hebrew ארמי Aramaic ελληνικός Greek

ספר תהלים פרק קלא

א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד יְהֹוָה | לֹא-גָבַהּ לִבִּי וְלֹא-רָמוּ עֵינַי וְלֹא-הִלַּכְתִּי | בִּגְדֹלוֹת וּבְנִפְלָאוֹת מִמֶּנִּי: ב אִם-לֹא שִׁוִּיתִי | וְדוֹמַמְתִּי נַפְשִׁי כְּגָמֻל עֲלֵי אִמּוֹ כַּגָּמֻל עָלַי נַפְשִׁי: ג יַחֵל יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶל-יְהֹוָה מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם:

סםר טוביה פרק קלא

א שירא דאתאמר על מסיקיין מסוקין דתהומא על יד דוד יהוה לא גבה ליבי ולא איתרוממו עיני ולא הליכית ברברבן ובפרישן מיני׃ ב אין לא שוית אידא לפום ושתיקית נפשי עד דציית פתגמי אוריתא היך חסילא על תדיי אמיה אתגברית באוריתא היך חסילא עלוי נפשי׃ ג יוריך ישראל ליהוה מן השתא ועד עלמא׃

ΨΑΛΜΟΙ 131

131:1 ᾠδὴ τῶν ἀναβαθμῶν τῷ Δαυιδ κύριε οὐχ ὑψώθη μου ἡ καρδία οὐδὲ ἐμετεωρίσθησαν οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου οὐδὲ ἐπορεύθην ἐν μεγάλοις οὐδὲ ἐν θαυμασίοις ὑπὲρ ἐμέ 131:2 εἰ μὴ ἐταπεινοφρόνουν ἀλλὰ ὕψωσα τὴν ψυχήν μου ὡς τὸ ἀπογεγαλακτισμένον ἐπὶ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ ὡς ἀνταπόδοσις ἐπὶ τὴν ψυχήν μου 131:3 ἐλπισάτω Ισραηλ ἐπὶ τὸν κύριον ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν καὶ ἕως τοῦ αἰῶνος

Tehillim / Psalms 131

131:1 O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. 131:2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. 131:3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.(NASB)

Toviyah / Psalms 131

131:1 A song uttered on the ascents of the abyss. O Lord, my heart is not proud, and my eyes are not lifted up, and I have not walked in things too great and wonderful for me. 131:2 Verily I have placed a hand on my mouth and silenced my soul while listening to words of Torah, like a weaned child at its mother’s breasts; I have become mighty in the Torah; like a weaned child is my soul upon him. 131:3 Let Israel wait long for the Lord from now and forevermore. (EMC)

Psalmoi / Psalms 131

A Song of Degrees. 131:1 O Lord, my heart is not exalted, neither have mine eyes been haughtily raised: neither have I exercised myself in great matters, nor in things too wonderful for me. 131:2 I shall have sinned if I have not been humble, but have exulted my soul: according to the relation of a weaned child to his mother, so wilt thou recompense my soul. 131:3 Let Israel hope in the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. (LXX)

In this week’s study from Tehillim / Psalms 131:1-3, the psalm opens saying, א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד יְהֹוָה | לֹא-גָבַהּ לִבִּי וְלֹא-רָמוּ עֵינַי וְלֹא-הִלַּכְתִּי | בִּגְדֹלוֹת וּבְנִפְלָאוֹת מִמֶּנִּי: 131:1 O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me. (NASB) The psalmist opens with a declaration that his heart is not proud. The lifting of the eyes is a term implying pride as in the proud look. He follows with not having haughty eyes. The haughty eyes is mentioned in Mishley / Proverbs 6:17 and in Mishley / Proverbs 30:10 saying, “There is a generation, oh how lofty are their eyes! and their eyelids are lifted up.” The word haughty is defined as “blatantly and disdainfully proud” (Merriam-Webster). This word is used in the Scriptures in the evil sense of being “arrogant, disdainful and setting oneself above others,” it is often set in contrast to being humble before both God and men. In Mishley / Proverbs 6, we read a list of six things the Lord God in heaven hates. Solomon says, “seven that are an abomination to Him.” The first thing the Lord hates is listed as the “haughty eyes,” which is then followed by the lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a false witness, and feat quick to run to evil. In Mishley / Proverbs 21:4, Solomon says the haughty eyes is a sin and is coupled to pride and the proud heart. The reason this is so is because the haughty eye is to be arrogant with an attitude that one is better than another, having scorn for someone else, to look down on others, etc. The haughty person sets himself above others and ultimately above God in heaven. When a person becomes haughty, he becomes central to his own world, he is selfish. Such a person has little to no concern for others and has no concern for the will of God. Pride, haughtiness, arrogance all lead to deceit and is the source for which all other sins a man commits. It is within this centrality of our lives, the self centered pride, that all things become lawful to us in our hearts and minds and lives. This is the reason the Lord God in heaven is resistant to our being haughty and proud. The Mishnah Pirkei Avot 5:19 states the following regarding haughtiness.

Mishnah Pirkei Avot 5:19

כָּל מִי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּיָדוֹ שְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים הַלָּלוּ, מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ. וּשְׁלשָׁה דְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים, מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע. עַיִן טוֹבָה, וְרוּחַ נְמוּכָה, וְנֶפֶשׁ שְׁפָלָה, מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ. עַיִן רָעָה, וְרוּחַ גְּבוֹהָה, וְנֶפֶשׁ רְחָבָה, מִתַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע. מַה בֵּין תַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ לְתַלְמִידָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע. תַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ, אוֹכְלִין בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְנוֹחֲלִין בָּעוֹלָם הַבָּא, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (משלי ח) לְהַנְחִיל אֹהֲבַי יֵשׁ, וְאֹצְרֹתֵיהֶם אֲמַלֵּא. אֲבָל תַּלְמִידָיו שֶׁל בִּלְעָם הָרָשָׁע יוֹרְשִׁין גֵּיהִנֹּם וְיוֹרְדִין לִבְאֵר שַׁחַת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (תהלים נה) וְאַתָּה אֱלֹהִים תּוֹרִידֵם לִבְאֵר שַׁחַת, אַנְשֵׁי דָמִים וּמִרְמָה לֹא יֶחֱצוּ יְמֵיהֶם, וַאֲנִי אֶבְטַח בָּךְ:

All who possess these three attributes are of the disciples of our father Abraham; and (all who possess) three other attributes are of the disciples of the wicked Bilam: (If he possesses) a good eye and a humble spirit and a lowly soul, he is of the disciples of our father Abraham. [He learned from him and walked in his ways: “A good eye” — contenting himself with what he has and not desiring the wealth of others, as we find with Abraham, who said to the king of Sodom (Genesis 14:22): “Nothing — from a thread until a sandal latchet (shall I keep for myself, nor shall I take anything that is yours.” “And a humble spirit” — exceeding humility, as we find with Abraham, viz. (Ibid. 18:27): “and I am dust and ashes”; “and a lowly soul” — watchfulness and separation from lust, as we find with Abraham, viz. (Ibid. 12:11: “Behold, I now know that you are a beautiful woman,” not having been aware of her beauty because of his great modesty.] (If he possesses) an evil eye, a haughty spirit, and a “broad” soul, he is of the disciples of the wicked Bilam. [Bilam had “an evil eye,” knowing that it was evil in the eyes of the L rd for him to go to Balak, yet going anyway for the sake of reward, viz. (Numbers 22:18): “If Balak gives me his house full of silver and gold, etc.”; “and a haughty spirit,” (saying of himself) (Ibid. 24:16): “The speech of the hearer of the words of the Almighty and the knower of the knowledge of the Most High”; “and a ‘broad’ soul.” For if he were not exceedingly lustful, he would not have counseled to abandon the daughters of Moav to harlotry. And our sages said (Sanhedrin 105a): “Bilam lived with his donkey.”] What is the difference between the disciples of our father Abraham and the disciples of the wicked Bilam? The disciples of our father Abraham eat in this world and inherit the world to come, as it is written (Proverbs 8:21): “I have much to bequeath to My lovers [in the world to come], and their stores shall I fill [in this world.]” [Abraham is called a “lover” viz. (Isaiah 41:8): “the seed of Abraham, My lover.”] But the disciples of the wicked Bilam inherit Gehinnom and descend to the pit of destruction, as it is written (Psalms 55:24): “And You, O G-d, shall lower them to the pit of destruction. Men of bloodshed [(e.g., Bilam, who by his counsel killed twenty-four thousand of Israel)] and deceit shall not halve their days, but I shall trust in You.”

The Mishnah Pirkei Avot speaks of the attributes of Abraham, one who has a “good eye” is to have a humble spirit, a lowly soul, and walks in the ways of God. Here the Mishnah defines the good eye as one who is contented, he does not desire the wealth of others (not covetous). This is paralleled to the kingdom of Sodom and Lot who desired the wealth of these nations, as opposed to Abraham who did not by remaining in the mountainous regions in which one needed to rely upon the Lord God in heaven to take care of him. The haughtiness (pride) of man is connected to sexual sin. This is illustrated from the Talmud Bavli Yoma 9b:6.

Talmud Bavli Yoma 9b:6

With regard to forbidden sexual relations, it is written: “The Lord says because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go and… making a tinkling with their feet” (Isaiah 3:16). Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, indicates a tall woman walking alongside a short one so that the tall woman would stand out…

Here sexual sin is connected to one who walks haughty, prideful, and longing to entice men to sin. The “evil eye” is defined as having a haughty spirit, a broad soul, and is a disciple of Bilam who longed for the gold and silver of Balak. Those who are led astray by these things, long for the corruption of money and deceit, and will not inherit the world to come. The Torah states in Devarim / Deuteronomy 8:14 beware lest your heart grow haughty and you forget the LORD your God who freed you from the land of Egypt, the house of bondage; The Talmud describes haughtiness being connected to sexual sin. These are the reasons why the Lord God in heaven resists haughtiness. Throughout the Tanach we read how the Lord brings down the haughty and the proud (2 Samuel 2:28, Tehillim / Psalm 18:27, Isaiah 2:11, 5:15, and Ezekiel 16:50). King Solomon told us twice that haughtiness precedes destruction (see Mishley / Proverbs 16:18, 18:12). The Apostolic Writings make it clear the dangers of arrogance and pride, warning repeatedly against it. Both James and Peter warn that God actively opposes the proud (James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5). Everyone has the capacity to be susceptible to pride. The Scriptures tell us that all men are capable of being brought down by pride. For example, King Uzziah was struck with leprosy because of his arrogance and pride by attempting to take the place of the priest and burn incense before God (see 2 Chronicles 26:16). In a similar manner, Hezekiah’s pride in his possessions led to the Lord disciplining him (see 2 Chronicles 32:25). Even the apostle Peter in his pride claimed he would never forsake the Messiah (Matthew 26:33-35). He was found to be false when he then denied Yeshua (Matthew 26:69-75). These things are why humility and being of a humble spirit are so important and why the Scriptures always exhort us to be humble. Studying the Scriptures, and thinking upon them throughout the day may lead to a reduction in pride in one’s life. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:7 that we are different, and it is the Lord Yeshua the Messiah who makes us different and for this we should be thankful. Peter and James say in 1 Peter 5:6 and James 4:6 to be humble and that the Lord provides us mercy for the purpose of our learning to be humble. Isaiah 66:2 “For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. (NASB) Isaiah says the Lord looks for those who are humble because humility draws God’s attention. Humility provides us the correct perspective whereas the proud heart leads to all sorts of sins and such a person is resisted by God.

If we think about the generation spoken of here in the text that is proud and lofty in their thoughts, how applicable is this for our generation today? In today’s generation, there is a correlation between self-motivation and self-entitlement, and a thin line between confidence and arrogance. One of the major issues is the perception that one is right regardless of the facts. In addition, taking the time to research an idea and train one’s self to stick with the facts, i.e. what we find in the Bible as a standard for living, as opposed to personal opinion. To take the approach that one is always right regardless of what the Scriptures say has caused all sorts of problems for this present generation. In addition to this, there are poorly developed social and communication skills which lead to one desiring to text someone rather than engaging someone in a face to face conversation for problem solving or collaboration, which leads to greater understanding. These things seem to be lost in this present generation. The psalmist states that he does not involve himself in great matters or difficult things. This sounds a lot like what Paul was writing in 2 Corinthians 4:18, to not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. The concept of great matters may be related to the things of the world, as it is connected to pride and the pursuit of great success at work, or in politics, or business, or some other form of worldly activity. Not getting involved in great matters may also be related to being humble. Having the ability to solve difficult tasks has the capability of increasing pride in one’s life. If one has the gift of solving difficult problems, humility is a problem that may be unsolvable without the help of the Lord God in heaven. It is difficult to humble ourselves when stuck in pride. Pride causes us to not see the truth, which has the effect of lying to ourselves, because it is written “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Yeshua also said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.” (Matthew 11:25) Yeshua points to the men who pride themselves upon their speculative or philosophical attainments; but praises the Lord for revealing the truths of His kingdom to the humble of spirit.

The Psalmist continues saying the following, ב אִם-לֹא שִׁוִּיתִי | וְדוֹמַמְתִּי נַפְשִׁי כְּגָמֻל עֲלֵי אִמּוֹ כַּגָּמֻל עָלַי נַפְשִׁי: 131:2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. (NASB) One way to quiet the soul is to recognize it is the Lord God Almighty who is our only refuge and strength. We tell the Lord that He is our peace, our joy, our hope, and our everything. He is our salvation, He has set us free, He has become our dwelling place because He has delivered us from our troubles and our enemies. The Lord as “our everything” leads us to trust and quiet our souls. This kind of comfort is paralleled to the weaned child in his mother’s arms. Jewish philosophy has the following to say concerning the child that rests against his mother.

Duties of the Heart, Fourth Treatise on Trust 7:10

(1) An infant, at the beginning of his existence, trusts in his mother’s breast, as written “For You drew me from the womb; You made me trust on my mother’s breasts” (Tehilim 22:10). (2) When his perception strengthens, his trust moves to his mother, due to the great care she gives him, as written “I swear that I calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother” (Tehilim 131:2). (3) When his understanding grows more, and he observes that his mother depends on his father, he moves his trust to his father due to the greater degree of protection he receives from him. (4) When his body strengthens, and it becomes possible for him to earn for himself a livelihood through work or business, or the like, he moves his trust to his strength and resourcefulness, due to his ignorance that all the good that came before this was through the providence of G-d.

The description of the child who is just born is in relation to the unconditional trust of the infant in his mother. The commentary states that as the child grows older, his trust moves from his mother to his father due to the greater protection that he receives from his father. As he learns to make money for himself, his trust moves from both his mother and father to his own strength and resources. This is paralleled to the Lord God our Father in heaven who provides all things. The Torah reveals to us the Lord God Almighty is the great Provider. When Israel needed a leader, He raised up Moshe. When the people needed water in the desert, He supplied it from a rock. When they needed food while wandering in the wilderness, He gave it in the form of manna. Man needed a redeemer from the bondage of sins, so the Lord God sent His only begotten Son to die, laying his life down for ours. The hand of God’s provision is also open to us in our time of affliction. He has provided for the need of His suffering servants as long as that suffering is the result of righteousness sake. Paul wrote, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). The promise of God’s Word (the Holy Scriptures) is that He will supply all our need. The Jewish philosophical comments continue to say the following:

Duties of the Heart, Third Treatise on Service of God 8:21

On a similar topic, David, peace be upon him, said, “L-ord, my heart is not haughty, nor did I lift up my eyes . . .” (Ps. 131:1). And he adds in the next verse, in regard to submission to G-d, “Surely I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; my soul is with me like a weaned child” (Ps. 131:2).

Duties of the Heart, Fourth Treatise on Trust, Introduction 47

Another benefit, joy in whatever happens to him, even if it is something difficult and against his nature, because he trusts that G-d will do only what is good for him in all matters, just like a mother has compassion on her baby in washing it, diapering it, and tying or untying it against its will, as David said “Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child” (Tehilim 131:2).

The commentary speaks of the importance of having an innocent heart before God and men that is paralleled to the child who trusts in his mother after birth. The soul is as the child being able to trust his mother having no fear. The idea is we do not know how much the Lord has been doing in the background of our lives. The parallel is to the mother who “has compassion on her baby in washing it, diapering it, and tying or untying it against its will,” the Lord does things in our lives for the greater good, according to His plan.

The psalm concludes saying, ג יַחֵל יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶל-יְהֹוָה מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם: 131:3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.(NASB) The psalmist tells all of Israel the Lord is the One in whom she can trust saying, מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם “from now and on into eternity.” The Lord is our hope indeed for our redemption is only possible by His mercy and forgiveness which comes from heaven. One of many promises in the Bible that has strengthened and sustained God’s children for centuries is Philippians 4:19, which states “But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” In this verse the apostle Paul was not introducing a new promise. The provision of God for His children is deeply rooted in the Torah. The first and foremost important truth is that God is the provider (Philippians 4:19). The truth is we are to trust in the Lord as a loving Father and not merely have an intellectual and academic understanding of the Lord only. For example, we know based upon the Scriptures that the Lord is omnipotent, He is capable of doing all things, and nothing is impossible for Him. This however does not provide a personal and intimate relationship with the Lord. Knowing Him as the provider of all our needs. In the Torah, the Hebrew name for God is the One who sees (יְהוָֹה יֵרָאֶה). In Bereshit / Genesis 22 when Abraham, in obedience to God’s command, took his son Isaac to Mount Moriah to offer him for a burnt offering. After Abraham and Isaac had arrived at the designated place and prepared the altar, Isaac said to his father, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” (Bereshit / Genesis 22:7-8, ז וַיֹּאמֶר יִצְחָק אֶל-אַבְרָהָם אָבִיו וַיֹּאמֶר אָבִי וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֶּנִּי בְנִי וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה הָאֵשׁ וְהָעֵצִים וְאַיֵּה הַשֶּׂה לְעֹלָה: ח וַיֹּאמֶר אַבְרָהָם אֱלֹהִים יִרְאֶה-לּוֹ הַשֶּׂה לְעֹלָה בְּנִי וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם יַחְדָּו:). The Lord God in heaven provided a substitute to die in the place of Isaac (22:13). “And Abraham called the name of that place ְיהוָֹה יֵרָאֶה (22:14), meaning “the Lord sees.” Note how the Lord sees all of our needs, and Abraham did not experience God’s miraculous provision without first giving obedience to God’s command. Abraham was not presumptuous; rather, he displayed implicit faith and obedience. He had become acquainted with the Lord God in heaven and understood what the Lord is looking for, loving obedience to His commands.

Based upon the Torah text, we understand that the Lord is our supplier. Note how Paul in Philippians 1:3, gives assurance that one who is rightly related to God will have his needs supplied. There is to be no doubting, no hesitation, and no apprehension. Our Lord said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” (Matthew 21:22). These are promises the Lord gives to His children. We can be confident the Lord will supply our needs. Twice Yeshua said “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him” (Matthew 6:8), and “For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:32). On the other hand, Paul reminded us that “we know not what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26) because we are inherently selfish, our prayer requests often reflect more greed than need. The Lord God promises to supply our need according to His riches. This tells us our needs are not too great for the Lord to supply. The Lord God Almighty knows our needs and His wealth is at our disposal in the sense of His provision for what we need here and now. Yeshua taught about material needs in Matthew 6:19-34. He speaks of finances, food, clothing, and our future. One of the prerequisites of God’s blessing is related to the one who is innocent, obey’s God’s commands, seeks His righteousness, and lives a repentant life in innocence before God. This is how the psalmist understands the meaning of Tehillim / Psalms 131:2, אִם-לֹא שִׁוִּיתִי | וְדוֹמַמְתִּי נַפְשִׁי כְּגָמֻל עֲלֵי אִמּוֹ כַּגָּמֻל עָלַי נַפְשִׁי: 131:2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me. (NASB) and how the psalm concludes saying, ג יַחֵל יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶל-יְהֹוָה מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם: 131:3 O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.(NASB) With all of these things in mind, Israel is able to trust the Lord, מֵעַתָּה וְעַד-עוֹלָם “from now and on into eternity.” Let’s Pray!

Rabbinic Commentary

The Rabbinic Commentary (Midrash) on Tehillim / Psalms 131 has 2 parts. Reading through the Midrash we will be looking at Part 1 and 2. Let’s begin by outlining Midrash Tehillim Chapter 131, Part 1 and 2

Outline of Midrash Tehillim / Psalms, Chapter 131, Part 1 and 2

Part 1

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “A son of ascents; of David. Lord, my heart was not haughty (Tehillim / Psalms 131:1) when Samuel anointed me.”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Nor were my eyes lofty when I slew Goliath.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis describe the attitude of a warrior, to not be haughty when going to war as David in his fight with Goliath.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), the rabbis go on to describe how humility is key to the Lord working in our lives.
  • The Concluding phrase says, “Instead I refrained my soul, and kept it low, like as a child that is weaned from his mother, yes, my soul is even as a weaned child (Tehillim / Psalms 131:2), like a child just taken from the womb of its mother was this soul of mine.”

Part 2

  • The Midrash introduces the Psalm with the דיבור המתחיל (Dibur Hamathil) saying, “You cannot name a man in Israel who humbled himself more that David did in order to perform God’s commands. He used to say, Lord, my heart was not haughty (Tehillim / Psalms 131:1) when Samuel anointed me king.”
  • The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Nor were my eyes lofty when I slew Goliath.
  • The משל (mashal) “the parable,” goes on to explain the פתיחתא (Petihta), the rabbis speak of the humility of David as the example for our lives.
  • The נמשל (Nimshal) “expansion on the parable” expands upon the משל (mashal), by describing the innocence of a child before his mother.
  • The Concluding phrase says, “Rabbi Adda son of Rabbi Hanina taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, said to David, Because you made yourself like unto a weaned child, I swear by your life that you will be without sin like a weaned child who is without sin, as is said, The Lord also has put away your sin; you will not die (2 Samuel 12:13). From this verse you can learn that no man is privileged to act pridefully before the Presence, and that a man should humble his self-esteem.”

Midrash Tehillim 131, Part 1 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “A son of ascents; of David. Lord, my heart was not haughty (Tehillim / Psalms 131:1) when Samuel anointed me.” The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Nor were my eyes lofty when I slew Goliath.” The entire midrash states the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק קלא סימן א

א כתיב שיר המעלות לדוד ה׳ לא גבה לבי. בשעה שמשחני שמואל. ולא רמו עיני. בשעה שהרגתי את גלית. ולא הלכתי בגדולות. בשעה שהעלתי בארון. ובנפלאות ממני. בשעה שהחזירוני למלכותי. אלא אם לא שויתי ודוממתי נפשי כגמול עלי אמו כגמול עלי נפשי. כהן ינקא דנחית ממעי אימיה, כן הוות נפשי עלי.

Midrash Tehillim 131, Part 1

1. A son of ascents; of David. Lord, my heart was not haughty (Tehillim / Psalms 131:1) when Samuel anointed me. Nor were my eyes lofty when I slew Goliath. Neither did I swagger about when I had the Ark of God brought up out of Philistine captivity. Nor did I accept as my due things too high for me when I restored to my kingship. Instead I refrained my soul, and kept it low, like as a child that is weaned from his mother, yes, my soul is even as a weaned child (Tehillim / Psalms 131:2), like a child just taken from the womb of its mother was this soul of mine.

The rabbis comment on pride and David not having pride when he stood before Goliath to fight. Goliath on the other hand had great pride based upon what he said to Israel and to David. Pride is a prison that perpetuates anger, hurt, and foolishness while at the same time keeping at bay the restorative effects of conviction, humility, and reconciliation (Mishley / Proverbs 11:2; 29:23, Galatians 6:3, James 4:6, Revelation 3:17). Later, in Mishley / Proverbs 16:18, God tells us, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Solomon states that pride goes before destruction, so pride has the capacity to lead us to prison and as an executioner to our death. There are many types or sources of pride. Pride results from (i) The wealth that one has (gold-pride), (ii) The way that one looks (beauty-pride), (iii) The knowledge that one has (intellectual-pride), (iv) The skill that one has (per­formance-pride), (v) The influence that one possesses (power-pride), (vi) The social status that one occupies (position-pride). In the Tanach and the Apostolic Writings, the sin of pride is directly opposed to the virtue of humility. Pride boasts up a persons opinion of himself, in one’s own abilities and it interferes with one’s ability to recognize the place that God rightly deserves and the mercy of God in our lives. Pride is the source from which all other sins rise up. The root of pride is found in a man not being subject to God and His word. When a man fails to execute the plan the Lord God in heaven has for his life, it is most likely the result of pride that motivates his actions. We read what the Lord thinks of pride according to the following references:

Mishley / Proverbs 8:13 I hate pride and arrogance. (NASB)

Mishley / Proverbs 3:34 He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble. (NASB)

James 4:6 God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (NASB)

1 Peter 5:5 All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (NASB)

The rabbis continue saying, “Neither did I swagger about when I had the Ark of God brought up out of Philistine captivity. Nor did I accept as my due things too high for me when I restored to my kingship.” They emphasize the importance of remaining humble before God and men as David did in his life that is illustrated by the Ark of God and his becoming king of Israel. So who are the proud, and how are those who live in pride? It is those who are with an unrepentant heart. Being unrepentant makes it impossible to live in the ways of God for the commandments are designed to humble our lives before the Lord and others. Paul wrote that true love does not boast (1 Corinthians 13:4). The proud have unrealistic expectations wanting to usurp the place of God in their lives. Who are those who are humble? They are the ones who are like the Messiah, humble in obedience to God’s Torah, like a servant. Yeshua humbled himself and became obedient to the commands. In Mark 10:45 we are told “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, to give His life as a ransom for many.” A humble person has a sober recognition of their sin and God’s holiness and the God given mercy allowing us to be repentant of our ways and the time to turn to God’s ways. A humble person glorifies God by living a life of faith and obedience (faithfulness) out of love from the heart.

Midrash Tehillim 131, Part 1 concludes saying, “Instead I refrained my soul, and kept it low, like as a child that is weaned from his mother, yes, my soul is even as a weaned child (Tehillim / Psalms 131:2), like a child just taken from the womb of its mother was this soul of mine.” The midrash speaks of the psalmist’s words on the humble soul as being one that is as innocent as the child that was just born. The reason this is so important is because pride precedes and supports all the sinful attitudes we produce. Pride is an exalted view of ourselves that distorts reality and reason. Pride is the antithesis of humility and fails to recognize the mercy of God. Though the new born infant also does not recognize the mercy of God, the innocent intent and total reliance upon his mother is paralleled to our faith as being totally dependent upon the Lord God Almighty in heaven. Pride is the excessive desire to be noticed by others, whereas humility is the opposite. This is why the Lord gave us His commands, so we have a guide to humble our lives in accordance with God’s Word.

Midrash Tehillim 131, Part 2 opens with the Dibur Hamathil (דיבור המתחיל) saying, “You cannot name a man in Israel who humbled himself more that David did in order to perform God’s commands. He used to say, Lord, my heart was not haughty (Tehillim / Psalms 131:1) when Samuel anointed me king.” The פתיחתא (Petihta) the homiletic introduction to the midrash states, “Nor were my eyes lofty when I slew Goliath.” The entire midrash states the following:

מדרש תהלים פרק קלא סימן ב

ב אין לך אדם בישראל שביזה עצמו על המצות יותר מדוד, (הה״ד) דהוה אמר לפני אלהים ה׳ לא גבה לבי (תהלים קלא א) בשעה שמשחני שמואל למלך. ולא רמו עיני (שם תהלים קל״א) בשעה שהרגתי את גלית. ולא הלכתי בגדולות ־ (שם תהלים קל״א) בשעה שהחזירוני למלכות. ובנפלאות ממני (שם תהלים קל״א) בשעה שהעלתי את הארון. אם לא שויתי ודוממתי נפשי כגמול עלי אמו (שם תהלים קל״א ב) כשם שהתינוק הזה אינו מתבייש להתגלות לפני אמו, כך שויתי נפשי לפניך שלא נתביישתי להתבזות לפניך לכבודך. כגמול עלי נפשי (שם תהלים קל״א) כהן ינוקא דנפק ממעי דאימיה ואין בו רוח גסה לינוק משדי אמו, כן הוות נפשי עלי שאיני מתבייש ללמוד תורה אפילו מקטני ישראל. א״ר אדא ב״ר חנינא אמר לו הקב״ה אתה שוית עצמך לגמול, חייך כשם שאין לתינוק הזה עונות, כך אין לך עונות, שנאמר גם ה׳ העביר חטאתך לא תמות, מכאן את למד שאין אדם רשאי לנהוג גאוה לפני המקום, אלא צריך אדם להתבזות על כבודו.

Midrash Tehillim 131, Part 2

2. You cannot name a man in Israel who humbled himself more that David did in order to perform God’s commands. He used to say, Lord, my heart was not haughty (Tehillim / Psalms 131:1) when Samuel anointed me king. Nor were my eyes lofty when I slew Goliath. Neither did I swagger about when I was restored to my kingship. Nor did I accept as my due things to high for me when I had the Ark of God brought up out of Philistine captivity. But I have calmed and quieted my soul like as a child that is weaned from his mother (Tehillim / Psalms 131:2), Like a child that is not ashamed when uncovered in the presence of his mother, I calmed my soul before You and was not ashamed to humble myself for Your sake and for Your honor. My soul is with me like a weaned child. As a child just out of its mother’s womb is not proud of spirit, but is eager to such at the breasts of its mother, so is this soul of mine, for I am not ashamed to learn Torah even from the least in Israel. Rabbi Adda son of Rabbi Hanina taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, said to David, Because you made yourself like unto a weaned child, I swear by your life that you will be without sin like a weaned child who is without sin, as is said, The Lord also has put away your sin; you will not die (2 Samuel 12:13). From this verse you can learn that no man is privileged to act pridefully before the Presence, and that a man should humble his self-esteem.

The rabbis speak of the humbleness of David setting him up as the example for our lives in the performance of God’s commands. The examples given are that of when David slew Goliath, when he was restored as king of Israel, and when he brought the Ark of God up from the Philistine captivity. The type of humility that is described is paralleled to “But I have calmed and quieted my soul like as a child that is weaned from his mother (Tehillim / Psalms 131:2), Like a child that is not ashamed when uncovered in the presence of his mother, I calmed my soul before You and was not ashamed to humble myself for Your sake and for Your honor. My soul is with me like a weaned child.” The consequences of pride are that the proud rebel against God’s Word and reject His way of doing things. Pride produces jealousy, bitterness, vindictiveness, revenge, gossip, slander, and judgmental-ism. Pride motivates emotional sins such as, fear, worry, anxiety, hatred, a guilty complex and self-pity. Pride when it is transformed into self-righteousness produces a form of legalism and the judgment of others. So, if pride comes by rebelling against the Word of God, then the solution to pride would be to put the Lord God in his rightful place in our lives by acknowledging, respecting, trusting, loving and obeying Him and His Word. The solution to pride is to determine in our hearts to be honest with ourselves and repent by changing our attitude and our actions to be in line with what we read in Scripture, and trusting that the Lord God knows our needs and is able to provide for our needs.

Pride is difficult to overcome, it is self seeking and living for ourselves. The Lord God Almighty made us to live for others, to surrender ourselves and our pride in humility. This is why Yeshua said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23-25) Pride begins in the heart and with wrong thinking (1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. NASB) The proud become foolish and are unteachable, whereas the humble person is teachable and wise. A humble person is honest and transparent and is not pretentious. Yeshua said, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (Luke 9:25) The message that underlies mercy and Teshuvah (repentance) is that only when submitting our lives to the Lord will we find happiness and peace. This is why Yeshua said we must lose our lives in order to save them, we must keep nothing back, look to the Messiah and all things will come together for good according to God’s will. In order to do this, we have to stop excusing ourselves and recognize our need for the Lord to help us, we have to stop judging others and focus upon what the Lord wants us to do according to His Word. Thank you Lord for helping us to know the truth and helping us to begin living in Your truth, help us to respond in our lives in the way that pleases You, and help us to be humble and to overcome pride. Help us to do what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

Midrash Tehillim 131 Part 2 concludes saying, “Rabbi Adda son of Rabbi Hanina taught, The Holy One, blessed be He, said to David, Because you made yourself like unto a weaned child, I swear by your life that you will be without sin like a weaned child who is without sin, as is said, The Lord also has put away your sin; you will not die (2 Samuel 12:13). From this verse you can learn that no man is privileged to act pridefully before the Presence, and that a man should humble his self-esteem.” The major theme of this midrash is that of being innocent as a weaned child in regard to our faith in the Lord God Almighty in heaven. The one who humbles himself as an innocent man, his sins will be forgiven. The assurance of these things in us that the Lord God Almighty is with us and working in our lives, is by going through numerous hardships and yet maintaining our faith to walk in God’s ways. Trails are the way in which our faithfulness is proven, refined, and strengthened. This is why James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3) Let’s Pray!

Tehillim 131-Part1-and-2