ESV Psalm 123
A SONG OF ASCENTS.
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us.
3 Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4 Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.
Spring 2006 Psalm of the Quarter
Theme Because of the world and your own sin, look to God first as our sovereign King, then as our Merciful Father.
1-2 Our eyes This song begins with a confession and a promise. We, the singers, confess to God that to Him alone we will turn in distress. Why we do this is shown by His title: the one “enthroned in the heavens” – we turn to God rather than ourselves or other parts of this world because Christ alone is the reigning King. Notice, though, that this is a promise of something we do, we promise to lift our eyes to God. It is a fact of life that hard times will come (as reflected later in this song), but what we do then is determined, in part, by what we decide now. Have you decided to turn to God alone for help? Have you made this commitment, to lift your eyes to God?
We aren’t left wondering how we ought to lift our eyes; we have in verse 2 two examples of how our focus on God takes shape. We lift our eyes (1) like a servant’s eyes watches his master’s hand and (2) like a maidservant’s eyes watches her mistress’ hand. What does this mean? How do servant’s eyes look to their master’s hands? Charles Spurgeon lists seven “how’s” of looking to God: reverently, obediently, attentively, continuously, expectantly, singly, submissively, imploringly. We look to God, waiting for any command to obey, any Word to hear, any encouragement to receive and then, like good servants, we act immediately.
3-4 His mercy The second half of the psalm shows that we aren’t voiceless, mute servants who aren’t allowed to speak in their master’s presence. Rather, we are servants who are also considered sons and daughters and through Christ we have a way to cry out to God. What is the content of our cry in this fallen world? “Have mercy on us!” Because of our sin, have mercy on us. Because of the pressures and enemies of the world, have mercy on us. Because the burdens our souls carry, have mercy on us.
Asking God for mercy, rather than simply favor, implies that we don’t deserve it. But this is what God specializes in: providing grace to the undeserving, the pitiful and helpless. If our confidence in God and His answer is based on something, anything, we do rather than on the character of God and the work of Jesus Christ, despair becomes the only option. But if we believe the amazing mercy residing in God’s heart and cry out for mercy, He will hear us, because it is what He loves to do. When dealing with His people, mercy is God’s first inclination, His first instinct.
Application Learn to cry out for God’s mercy. To figure out why you/we need it, look around at a world that wars against the church, then look inward to see how greatly we deserve God’s wrath rather than His love. Then, cry out for mercy!