The mother of all Psalms, literally, in that Psalm 131 distinctly among Psalms presents the image of God as mother. “Like a weaned child upon his mother’s breast,” is how the Psalmist self-describes in the middle verse. A weaned child no longer needs to suckle for nourishment and yet, snuggles on the familiar chest finding comfort, security, and contentment.
Rashi, the 11th century French Biblical commentator, translated “weaned/gamul” instead as “a nursing child.” When the Vilna Gaon (Lithuania of 18th century) was asked, “What does it mean to trust God?” He answered by quoting verse 2 and explained: After a child has finished suckling and rests contently, the child does not consider whether there will be milk the next time that I am hungry. Rather the child abides in contentment. This is what it means to trust in God.
This three-line Psalm has one key image, a mother’s nurturing love as the image of relationship with God.
Join me for words of contentment.
This morning’s study is dedicated to Nancy and Arnold Raymon.
Mother with Child sculpture by Fritz Nuss, with plaque quoting verse 2, in Schorndorf, Germany