Psalm 131

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Psalm 131
"Lord, my heart is not haughty"
Song of Ascents
2008-08-22SchorndorfSkulpturenrundgangMutter mit Kind01.jpg
Mother with Child sculpture by Fritz Nuss,
with plaque quoting verse 2,
in Schorndorf, Germany
Other name
  • Psalm 130
  • "Domine non est exaltatum cor meum"
LanguageHebrew (original)

Psalm 131 is the 131st psalm of the Book of Psalms, generally known in English by its first verse, in the King James Version, "Lord, my heart is not haughty". The Book of Psalms is the third section of the Hebrew Bible, and a book of the Christian Old Testament. In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 130 in a slightly different numbering system. In Latin, it is known as "Domine non est exaltatum cor meum".[1] The psalm is one of the fifteen Songs of Ascents (Shir Hama'alot), and one of three psalms consisting of only three verses.[2] It is attributed to David and is classified among the psalms of confidence.

The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, Anglican and Protestant liturgies. It has been set to music often, notably by Heinrich Schütz, and in the final movement of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms.

Background[edit]

Psalm 131 is one of the shortest chapters in the Book of Psalms, being one of three psalms with only three verses (the others are Psalms 133 and 134). The shortest psalm is Psalm 117, with two verses.[3] Psalm 131 is classified among the psalms of confidence.[4][5]

Themes[edit]

Spurgeon notes that this psalm is both by and about David, expressing his humility, his confidence, and his commitment to perform the will of God.[6] The Midrash pairs the phrases in verse 1 with specific events in David's life that he could certainly have bragged about, yet he retained his humility. These events were:[7]

  • "My heart was not haughty" – when Samuel anointed me king
  • "nor were my eyes lofty" – when I slew Goliath
  • "neither did I swagger about" – when I was restored to my kingship
  • "nor did I accept as my due things too high for me" – when I had the Ark of God brought up out of Philistine captivity

When asked what it means to trust in God, the Vilna Gaon quoted verse 2 of this psalm. He explained that just as a nursing baby that is satiated doesn't worry whether there will be more milk for him when he is hungry again, one who trusts in God does not worry about the future.[8]

Text[edit]

Hebrew Bible version[edit]

Following is the Hebrew text of Psalm 131:

Verse Hebrew
1 שִׁ֥יר הַֽמַּֽעֲל֗וֹת לְדָ֫וִ֥ד יְהֹוָ֚ה | לֹֽא־גָבַ֣הּ לִ֖בִּי וְלֹֽא־רָ֣מוּ עֵינַ֑י וְלֹֽא־הִלַּ֓כְתִּי | בִּגְדֹל֖וֹת וּבְנִפְלָא֣וֹת מִמֶּֽנִּי
2 אִם־לֹ֚א שִׁוִּ֨יתִי | וְדוֹמַ֗מְתִּי נַפְשִׁ֗י כְּ֖גָמֻל עֲלֵ֣י אִמּ֑וֹ כַּגָּמֻ֖ל עָלַ֣י נַפְשִֽׁי
3 יַחֵ֣ל יִ֖שְׂרָאֵל אֶל־יְהֹוָ֑ה מֵֽ֜עַתָּ֗ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם

King James Version[edit]

  1. Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.
  2. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.
  3. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.

Uses[edit]

Judaism[edit]

Psalm 131 is one of the 15 Songs of Ascents recited after the Shabbat afternoon prayer in the period between Sukkot and Shabbat HaGadol (the Shabbat prior to Passover).[9]

Catholicism[edit]

Since the Middle Ages, according to the Rule of St. Benedict (530), it was traditionally recited or sung at the office of vespers on Tuesday between Psalm 130 and Psalm 132.[10][11]

Currently, in the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 131 is in the Office of Readings on Saturday of the first week and vespers on Tuesday of the third week. In the liturgy of the Mass, it is recited in the 31st week on Sunday A8, and in the 31st week on Monday in even years and Tuesday in odd years.[12]

Musical settings[edit]

Michel-Richard de Lalande composed his great motet for this psalm (p. 28) at the end of the seventeenth century, before 1689, for the offices at the royal chapel of the castle of Versailles. In 1691, the work was revised and improved. Heinrich Schütz set the psalm in German for choir as part of his setting of the Becker Psalter as SWV 236, "Herr, mein Gemüt und Sinn du weißt" (Lord, you know my mind and sense).

The psalm in Hebrew is the text of the final movement of Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, an extended work for choir and orchestra, with verse 1 of Psalm 133 added.[13]

The English composer David Bednall composed a choral anthem titled "O Lord, I am not haughty" using Psalm 131 that was sung by The Queen's College, Oxford choir on their 2018 recording, The House of the Mind.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Parallel Latin/English Psalter / Psalmus 130 (131) Archived 2017-09-30 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Samet, Rav Elchanan (2018). "Shiur #08: Psalm 117 - 'O Praise The Lord, All You Nations' The Shortest Psalm in the Book of Tehillim". Yeshivat Har Etzion. Retrieved September 29, 2018.
  3. ^ Alden, Robert (1976). Everyman's Bible Commentary: Psalms: Songs of Discipleship. 3. Moody Publishers. p. 73. ISBN 9781575678467.
  4. ^ Robinson, Bernard P. (1998). "Form and Meaning in Psalm 131". Biblica. 79 (2): 180–197. JSTOR 42614069.
  5. ^ Longman III, Tremper; Enns, Peter, eds. (2008). Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings. InterVarsity Press. p. 58. ISBN 9780830817832.
  6. ^ Spurgeon, Charles (2013). "Psalm 131:1". Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  7. ^ "Midrash Tehillim / Psalms 131" (PDF). matsati.com. Retrieved 29 September 2018.
  8. ^ Houminer, Rabbi Shemuel (1994). Faith and Trust. Feldheim Publishers. p. 9. ISBN 9780873066570.
  9. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur (3rd ed.). Mesorah Publications Ltd. 2003. p. 530. ISBN 978-0899066509.
  10. ^ Prosper Guéranger, Règle de saint Benoît, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, reprinted 2007) p. 46.
  11. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, (1938/2003) p. 499.
  12. ^ The principal cycle of liturgical prayers extends over four weeks.
  13. ^ "Chichester Psalms (III. Psalm 131 [complete] and Psalm 133 [verse 1])". BBC. 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2018.

External links[edit]