Heaving with nearly uncontrollable sobs, the young girl stormily sat, unsettled in spirit and far from placid in demeanor. The cause? A toy, torn from her hands by a younger sibling, now broken in pieces on the floor, never to touch her hands again. Growing up. Part of life. Pain. Challenge. Difficulty. Frustration. But the time comes that similar toys hold no sway over us and function merely as a memory of the past, whimsical reminders of days gone by in that period which seemed to stretch a century--childhood. King David spoke of such a quiet stillness that had descended upon him.
“Surely,” he writes in Psalm 131:2, “I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.” How could this man retain a quiet heart when he knew the secret? That mesmerizing, unique, incredible secret, hidden to others but known to only a few others and himself?
Years before, when Samuel had arrived in Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons king, seven young men had passed before the priest. But David missed the action: he was busy watching his dad’s sheep. None of these sons, however, was God’s choice. Let us look in on that scene, recorded for us in I Samuel 16:11-13--
And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.
What delightful words to Samuel’s elderly ear! He had at last found the Lord’s anointed. “Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward . . . (I Samuel 16:12).
Throughout his teen years and into his twenties, David knew the secret that lay shrouded from others: he would become Israel’s next king. For years, David battled for Saul and the nation of Israel, winning victories, defeating Philistines, and standing valiantly for truth. While he never forgot his anointing, he also sought never to behave himself in an untoward way because of it. Instead, he kept a quiet heart with internal trust in an unchanging God. No wonder he bears the title “the sweet singer of Israel.” His praise songs echo throughout the inspired songbook of Scripture. Implicit dependence upon an omnipotent God—this theme rings through time and again as David, his heart weaned and quieted, could write about his rock-solid relationship with the omniscient God.
We too find that our inward spirits of either quietness or worry are often formed, not in balmy seasons or pleasant days, but when we are placed in the pressure cooker of affliction or rebuke, waiting or activity, living out a reality we never dreamed. And then we must respond with a quiet heart. This is the place that theory meets practicality, idea meets daily living. And how does one actually live out a quiet spirit?
With her husband and five school-aged children, my friend Tina is a missionary to Kenya, East Africa. Most American Christians would consider the slum region, where she and her family ministered at the beginning of their time on the Dark Continent, “no place to raise children. “ A hotbed of illness, especially AIDS and tuberculosis, this area boasted an array of dirty and diseased Africans, who would often ask to hold Tina’s little ones.
“Here you go,” she'd say with a smile, giving her babies to the nationals for a few moments. Tina relates, “I wanted these people to see that I love them. If I refused to allow them to hold my children, they would look at me as someone who thought she was better than them.”
When asked to sit on the floor of a mud hut to enjoy Chai in these regions, she would kindly accept. Ironically, her only cases of food poisoning occurred while dining with the rich elites in downtown Nairobi. By keeping a quiet heart, my friend learned to see the peace of God envelop her in time of physical need, when the challenge to keep a quiet heart was especially great. And God protected both her and her children in return.
As we yield to God’s Spirit of peace, we too can evidence that quiet spirit blossoming forth from our lives, allowing us to live the reality of a quiet spirit every day! Like David, we will be able to sing that our souls are rested, still, quiet. Satisfied. Like a weaned child.