One of the shortest psalms of the Bible gives us a beautiful picture of the kind of peace and quiet that God wants us to experience:
"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. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore." (Psalm 131:1–3)
It is the peace and quiet of a weaned child. What is that?
Great Humility Looks Like a Small Child
When David said his heart was not lifted up and his eyes were not raised, his original Hebrew readers would have clearly understood what he meant. His son, Solomon, later used similar imagery when he wrote, "Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin" (Proverbs 21:4). David was talking about pride.
We tend to think of David as a humble man, which is a right tendency because he often was. But humility didn't come naturally to David. He, like us, was all too aware of the incessant prideful impulses of his fallen nature, which at times he followed and which led him into grievous trouble. Therefore, David, like us, was often painfully aware of his pride-induced transgressions, and there were times his sin was ever before him (Psalm 51:3).
We don't know the events that prompted David to pen this short psalm. But we know two things: 1) His afflictions were many (Psalm 34:19) and 2) We often respond to our own afflictions the same way. We quickly lift our hearts and raise our eyes in pride when we are opposed or maligned or suffer in some way.
David's life was frequently embattled and often threatened. With the complexities and tragedies he faced, it must have been difficult to set aside the things "too great" for him — the "why's" he couldn't figure out. We only need to think of how hard it is to set our anxieties and fears aside, things "too marvelous" for us, and rest in trust on God's promises. We know just how easy it is to grumble and not to be humble.
So in these few words, David is giving us a model of what it looks like to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand (1 Peter 5:6): Great humility typically looks like a small child.