“But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
—Psalm 131: 2
I have twice heard men preach on this verse and twice they have gotten it wrong. They take the image to be one of God’s nurturing care for us, and both used the metaphor of the nursing mother to talk about God’s provision for creation. But they missed the most important word in this verse, the word that any woman who has nursed a child would notice almost instantly—weaned.
A child that is weaned is no longer drinking at its mother’s breast. Unlike the nursing child, whose hunger becomes intensified, whose need is all-consuming the minute it detects its mother’s scent, the weaned child is still. The weaned child in its father’s arms is much as it ever was. The true test comes when the child is in its mother’s arms again—the place with primal associations for survival and sustenance, the place where longings have been met and needs satisfied. In that place, will all the old passions be stirred up, or will the child trust in its ability to find comfort elsewhere?
With God, I still and quiet my soul like a weaned child. Though the fretful infant within me cries out for God to end the pain of hunger, my soul is quiet like a weaned child, a child with safety and warmth enough to trust not in the breast or the milk that comes after, but the closeness, only the closeness, with the one who gave so much and in whose loving arms I have never stopped being held.