Do me a favor and please read Psalm 123.
This psalm, to many of us, is going to feel very odd. It starts off very compelling and comforting. “I lift my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.” These are words of comfort that many of us have felt. In times of need, in distress, in praise and joy, we lift our eyes and head up to heaven to God’s mercy seat, judgement seat, presence, and throne our eyes look up to him. We do this because we know he watches, protects, leads and guides. We also do this because in all moments we know he responds to our needs. When you cannot move, when you are stuck, when you are oppressed the only person who can help is God.
But then we get the next verse that may find us a little uncomfortable (vs 2). Two different times we get the word “slave.” Two different times we get this image of a master (in one it’s “mistress” but that’s the same idea) and we simply don’t sit well with those words. We don’t know what to do with it because we’ve always been taught that slavery is bad. Being a “master” over someone is bad. But that’s on us and nobody else. While times have changed since the psalmist penned those words – we must realize that this word “slavery” shouldn’t bring up the image WE have. Instead, it should bring an idea/understanding that we are SERVANTS of God. And that we wait for God and his hand to move, direct, and help us. Simply put, we SERVE God as a “servant/slave” would do for their master as God is OUR master.
So what does all of that mean? Well, when we come back to verse 1 and combine it with verse 2 it’s this recognition that our eyes are set upon God and wait for him to move his hand. When God’s hand moves it’s a sign of his will, desire, and action. And as the end of verse 2 declares, which moves us into verses 3 and 4, it primarily has to do with God’s mercy and our need of God to help, save, and deliver from contempt and ridicule.
So…when we take ALL of this in, what we get is a servant of God who understands their place and is in need of God’s hand to save them as the surrounding people who do NOT believe in God are hateful, neglecting, full of ridicule and scorn and are in complete defiance of God and his ways. When we understand all of that…then we can begin to understand this psalm of God’s mercy.
You and me, and the psalmist, we are surrounded by people who do not live lives according to God and scripture. Our society loves itself. Our society pushes ideas and notions that are counter-God. And when we try to live lives worthy of His calling we are looked down upon and pushed aside. When we try to live servant-worthy lives we are stepped on and walked over. It’s a “godly” life that puts others first and yet a sacrificial way of life often times gets you hurt. So it makes sense that we simply look up to God in need of his hand of mercy because it’s only by his hand that “the ways of this world” will be put down. And it’s only through God’s hand of mercy that we can even endure this world while trying to not live IN this world.
And THAT is where we are to find peace and comfort.
- When you cannot endure anymore? You look to God.
- When you don’t have the strength to go on? You look to God.
- When you need relief from the pain, suffering, and all other experiences of this world? You look to God.
God is the only one who can help and deliver us from a world of contempt that never seems to end. When the arrogant are oppressive and loud…we find peace and rest in our master, knowing that his hand delivers. And he will show us mercy. The second coming of Christ reminds us that contempt, arrogance, and the proud will be put to an end. God’s loving mercy will usher in his complete control and push out sin and destruction. But until then – keep looking up and knowing that our master is in control.