Read Psalm 131.
Like a well-cut pair of jeans, humility looks good on everyone. But humility is more than just an attractive quality; it’s necessary traveling gear for those who follow the Lord.
It was in our pride that we set ourselves up to be like God (Genesis 3:5–6). In pride we rejected God’s plan for our lives—to be His perfect representatives, His constant image-bearers here on earth (Genesis 1:26–27; Romans 3:23). In pride we invited sin and death into this world (Romans 5:12). And it was because of our pride that we were cast out from the garden with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:23–24). We were scattered like the bricklayers at Babel (Genesis 11:8–9). We were weighed and found wanting like King Belshazzar (Daniel 5:27). So, now in humility, we can only stand at the gates of God’s mercy with nothing to offer Him but our open hands.
You might think David had risen above all that. He was, after all, hand-picked by God to be Israel’s king (1 Samuel 16:1–13). The Lord gave him victory over Goliath and more Philistines than you can count (1 Samuel 17:50; 18:7). He protected David from Saul, though the king used every resource at his disposal to try and cut him down (2 Samuel 22:1). God had even promised David that his throne would last forever (2 Samuel 7:16). It’s enough to make anyone think they were special, a bit more worthy than a mere beggar in need of daily bread. But not David.
Sure, on occasion he made mistakes and let his pride get the best of him. There was the infamous episode with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Pride was certainly at the root of David’s sin then. And there was his census that revealed his trust in armies rather than the living God. That ended poorly (1 Chronicles 21). But even through his sin, David always returned to a place of dependence on God.
Psalm 131 is David’s declaration of that humility: “My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me” (v. 1). Now, if this were anyone other than David, I might be tempted to think that writing a song about your own humility is just about one of the least humble things you can do. But David never cared much about what other people thought of him.
He volunteered to stand up to Goliath, though Saul told him he was too young (1 Samuel 17:33). He danced before the Lord, though his wife Michal despised him for it (2 Samuel 6:16). He wept for his traitor son, Absalom, though he was warned it would break the spirits of his troops (2 Samuel 19:5–6).
David has a track record of doing what he thinks is right, so in Psalm 131, he records his humility before God, not for his own benefit or to somehow inform God of what He already knows. Rather, he sets himself up as a model for his people to follow: “Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore” (v. 3).
When we trust in the Lord, we can rest in His arms. In that place, there is no reason to be proud, no reason to boast. He is our Provider, our Sustainer, and our Savior. We can let go of our striving and our posturing. We can give up our pretenses and take off our masks. We can simply be.