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Psalm 123 - Longing For God's Mercy

Andy Yung

Psalm 123:1-4 ESV

To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

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.

Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt.

Our soul has had more than enough of the scorn of those who are at ease, of the contempt of the proud.

Vs. 1

The Psalmist looked up to God, who sits “enthroned in the heavens”. He felt the great disparity between lowly human beings and almighty God.

Vs. 2

The Psalmist compared watching God with servants looking “to the hand of their master”. Today we don’t look at the hands of our bosses; we are able to look them in their eyes. During the days of the Psalmist, slaves couldn’t make eye contact with their masters, as that would be considered disrespectful. The masters would give the instructions to the servants with a wave of their hands, and the servants had to stand at an appropriate distance to watch out for their instructions. It was also possible that this Psalmist could very well be a slave and he had been receiving scorns from the proud and felt their contempt.

This second verse continues conveying the reverent feeling the Psalmist felt towards God as he waits “till He has mercy upon us.”

Vs. 3

The Psalmist lamented how his soul had been a recipient of “more than enough contempt” from the proud, and he felt disrespected and unworthy. He asked God repeatedly for mercy.

Vs. 4

Proud people “who are at ease” hurt us, and they don’t seem to suffer any problems. They couldn’t care less about their actions and words, and how they would hurt the feelings of people around. How true it is too, that it takes little effort for us (who are also proud) to hurt those around us.

This psalm gives a sense that the Psalmist was still waiting for God’s mercy, as he did not conclude in the way we see in most psalms, that God would do something. He prayed, “till He has mercy upon us.”

If a slave were under a proud master, it would be silly for him to believe he would be freed unless he could pay his master to release him from bondage. How is our situation today, at work or at home? We may be victims of the proud and been put in a humbled or oppressed position for some time. Is your soul hurt? Is your spirit dampened, as you see no signs of improvement?

How should we look up to God? Think about how a slave would look at his master’s hand for mercy. The Psalmist lifted his eyes to see God in the Heavens, waiting in reverence for His mercy. He was obedient to God’s timing and decision though he asked repeatedly, “have mercy upon us”. He paid careful attention to God’s move and listened to His calling. He would be alone as he waited to do whatever God wanted. No matter what the situation was, he submitted to the sovereign God. How are we in this area of submission to God?

This Psalm teaches us patience. We should humbly wait for God’s mercy despite the stressful situations we are facing now. Do not be hasty, just keep our eyes on Jesus and pray attentively.

Andy Yung

Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit.

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