Most of the Bible, especially the New Testament, is pretty straight forward. I love the narratives of people’s lives throughout the Old and New Testament. I learn from both their good and bad examples. But sometimes it seems like the authors of the Bible disguise their message in mystic symbolism instead of saying what they mean.

Western readers miss a lot, especially in the books of wisdom, poetry, and prophesy, because we think differently than those in the eastern culture. Living centuries later makes a difference too. It’s all still relevant, we just don’t have the same customs, clichés, or live the same way they did at the time it was written. The more we learn about the original audience, the easier it is to understand the Bible. But we don’t have to do this alone.
This is where the Church comes in. When we get together with other believers and grapple with a passage or concept, it suddenly comes alive. Those who’ve read and studied can share their insights, others’ personal experiences can shed light on the topic. Both those who’ve read the Bible all their lives and brand new believers still finding their way around, have valuable input and questions—we’re better together.
That’s what happened in our small group Sunday morning. In the middle of our study on Revelation, we paused to discuss Psalm 131:2, “I have stilled and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother.” What does that mean anyway?
 “How does a weaned child behave differently with its mother than a nursing baby?” There were so many different answers!
“They’re more defiant?” 
“They learn the word, ‘No.’” We all laughed.
But that didn’t fit the tone of the psalm, because David was describing a positive action on his part. This verse stumped me for years. My commentaries didn’t say much about it, but after I nursed two babies, I saw the difference in our relationship after they were weaned.

Babies howl at all times of the day and night. Every hunger pang, wet diaper, emerging tooth—any discomfort—is the end of the world and needs to be fixed RIGHT NOW. But months of nursing nurture an intimate bond between mother and child. As they mature and begin to eat solid food, children become more independent, but still look to Mom (and Dad) to meet their needs.
The more they see how faithfully she cares for them, the more they love and trust her. A weaned child still looks to Mom for sustenance, but understands she will provide what’s necessary when the time is right. 
A weaned child comes to Mom just to be near her, even when there’s no particular need. Because of love. She’s the one who comforts when their out of sorts and don’t know what to do; she’s the one who wipes their tears and snuggles them when they skin their knee. With Mom, they laugh, explore, and express wonder.

Someone else shared a very important insight. Weaned children choose intimacy. The more independent they become, the less they need to rely on Mom. They can choose whether they eat the plate of healthy food she provides, or snack on dirt in the yard, crumbs off the floor, or hold out for junk food when it’s available. They can go to Mom when there’s a need, or hide their hurt and questions inside. They can trust Mom’s instruction, or believe their friend’s five-year-old wisdom instead. 
Which child are you? Do you howl for God to fix your problems and expect Him to do it RIGHT NOW? Are you still drinking milk? Or have you learned to trust Him and wait for His timing because you’ve experienced His love and faithfulness? Are you eating the meat of the Word? Do you come to Him, not just when you need something, but to snuggle and laugh, marvel at His creation, learn from Him, and tell Him how much you love Him?
I know which child I want to be. It’s not easy to grow up, but what a beautiful picture of the kind of relationship we can have with God—if we will still and quiet our soul.
#poetryanalysis #analyzingscripture #donenursing #motherchildbond #psalm131:2 #intimacywithGod