The quiet before the storm is ushered in when the forecast is finally settled. My home is once again in a tropical storm’s predicted path. Life gets upended. Decisions are suspended as I wait. A heavy hush falls on this waiting room where I gather my preparations. Will this unwelcome guest rake havoc on my area? Will he overstay his welcome? Will my little portion of the piney woods see long-term damage? Questions come in waves that ebb into my mind.
Psalm 131 was written to be read aloud by those who were making their yearly pilgrimage to Jerusalem. This arduous trek would have involved steep inclines and dry desert wanderings. God’s people needed encouragement to keep going, and to prepare themselves for an encounter with God in the Temple.
1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. Psalm 131:1 ESV
I am a planner. I love to make plans and predict what will happen next. My heart and eyes tend to focus on the next thing, the next challenge, and the next worry. When I do this, is it because my eyes are straining beyond what God has for me at this moment. Am I missing the quiet before the storm because the noise in my head is drowning out God’s presence? I know that it is easy for me to catastrophize what I think I see ahead. I begin to try to figure out my own personal disaster plan and response before anything has actually gone wrong. The psalmist instead chooses not to occupy himself with things too great and too marvelous for him. Where I focus my mind and heart are my own choices.
What if, now that I have gathered my storm supplies, I take some time to sit with the Lord and see what He has for me in this time of waiting. What if I set a timer and sat quietly before him and listened?
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2 ESV
My youngest grandchild, Ian is a snuggler. He loves to be rocked to sleep and held. While his older sister is quick to wriggle out of my arms, he is content to settle in. There is absolutely nothing more calming on earth than a child sleeping peacefully on your chest. Can my soul snuggle up with God this day and rest peacefully knowing God clearly has a plan? Can I push pause on the doing, going, getting, and achieving for even fifteen minutes? Can I choose to quiet my soul in this waiting time? The psalmist is creating a peace-filled liturgy for himself. He is singing a lullaby over his own soul.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131:3 ESV
In the final verse of Psalm 131, the psalmist gives me a glimpse of the future. Hope in the Lord is available for me now and forevermore. However, in the quiet before the storm will I be found in my father’s arms at peace in that hope or pacing around as if it all depends on my efforts?
How do you quiet your soul?
For a beautiful version of this psalm, “Be Quiet My Soul” written and performed by a talented musician, Josh Davis. Check out the link below.