Psalms 123

Psalms 123
by Pastor Mark Hudson

I love this Psalm and can’t understand why someone would not love it.  As I write this brief devotional, I am not aware of contempt or scorn thrown my way.  This may be since I am not standing up enough for Christ and verbally witnessing for the gospel.  It may be since I live in a country that is surrounded on the east, west, and parts of the south by oceans.  It may be because this country is relatively safe for believers.  Yet, this is not the case for the author of this Psalm.  This is also not the case for millions and millions of believers in the world.  The last two verses describe the anguish they (he uses we and us) feel.

The Psalmist says he is fed up with contempt which he uses in v 3 and the last phrase of this Psalm.  In fact, Allen, a commentary I consult translates the last verse as, “More than our fill have we had of the mockery of the carefree, the contempt of the arrogant.”  These Jews are dwelling among those who have no regard for God.  The unbelievers around these believers mock them, and express their contempt.  Not just once or twice.  “We have had more than enough of contempt . . .” v. 3 shows this is ongoing and relentless.  They are weary of it.  They are tired of listening to the drumbeat of negativity and mocking about their most precious faith.

They plead for God’s mercy, repeating their plea.  “Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us”  They need relief.  They need a respite or a break from the deleterious effect this jeering, sneering, taunting, and heckling is having on them.  He is saying, “give us a break” because day after day the condescending disdain is wearing us down.

When I sense people are attacking me verbally, I want to fight back verbally.  I react in kind in my fleshly, natural self.  My first inclination is not gospel driven.  I hope you are not that way.  The Psalmist describes the pain which has the effect of gathering others into his pain.  This painting of a picture might be cathartic for him and beneficial to believers in all ages.  Just stepping back to write down his situation, his feeling, and his prayer for help had to help him.

Now to verses 1-2.  “To You, I lift up my eyes.”  If you haven’t noticed this in the Psalms, see it clearly here: the Psalmist first prays to God.  He first complains to God. He first asks God for help.  This is the first expression, “To You . . .”  I am coming to the Triune God in my prayers in my praise, and in my calls for mercy.  God first.  Our lives would be better if we did this.  We should say, “I am looking to you first.  I must look down to watch my step, but I look up for help.  I do not look to the hills (Ps. 121:1-2) I look to the One who made the hills.

You and I need to remember who we refer to when we say the word, “God.”   He is not merely above us or old or invisible like a ghost.  God is enthroned.  He sits on a heavenly throne reigning over the entire universe.  No throne is greater, more powerful, or above His.  No one is more majestic, glorious, just, righteousness, bright, knowledgeable, or wise.  He is infinite, full of mercy, goodness, kindness, and grace.  He is the King of every king and Lord of every lord.  No one can compare to Him.

So, we lift our eyes to this holy and perfect Being.  We look up as servants, demanding nothing, only asking.  As a servant, we wait for our master.  As servants we wait for our mistress.  And we wait for God, looking, worshipping, admiring, loving, adoring.  He must act first.  We look for a wave of his hand directing us.  He always directs us.  We do not act and then afterwards look for or ask for His blessing.  First, we wait, eyes fixed on the One who commands.  He is the One who has the authority to command and the One who always does what is right.

Even though we are ridiculed and taunted, mocked and scorned, our eyes are lifted up.  Look up when things are down.  Look up when you have lost the way.  The Psalmist’s view is as high as one can look.  He looks up to the very throne of heaven where God is exalted as the glorious reigning King of Heaven.  He dwells alone far above all rule and authority.  He is the One we look to for help, mercy, and support.

Dear Lord, we pray for all those believers we will never meet in this life who are under contempt and scorn.  We pray Your richest blessings on them for a nearness to You.  May You shower them with Your presence and pour out Your joy, peace, and mercy.  May they rejoice in their deep affliction if they are suffering for You.  For the smaller minority of us who do not suffer, point us to Scripture like this.  Keep us focused on You as You reign in glory.  Help us to think every day about heaven, hell, sin, and the gospel.  When we suffer, teach us to complain and pray to You first.  Remind us to keep looking up to the very throne of heaven where You are.  Where you love us, care for us, and protect us.  May Your suffering saints feel Your powerful presence.  And we know that our Lord Jesus is the one who lived among people who rejected Him yet He constantly looked to His heavenly Father for mercy.  Help us follow our Lord Jesus and to love Him.  In Christ’s name.  Amen.