Scripture reading – Psalm 123
Our Scripture reading, Psalm 123, is found amid the Psalms titled “A Song of Degrees” (Psalm 120-134). The author of Psalm 123 is not identified, and it would be mere speculation on my part to identify its author by name.
As I have stated in prior devotions, the Psalms identified as the “Song of Degrees” are believed to have been sung by pilgrims in their ascent to Jerusalem. There is also a significant probability that the priests and Levites sang the “Song of Degrees” as they ascended the steps to the Temple. For our Bible study, I suggest you consider three themes for Psalm 123.
The Focus of the Psalmist: The God of Heaven (123:1)
The psalmist writes, “1Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens” (123:1). It is instinctive for humanity to look to the heavens, and upon seeing the breadth and wonders of the sun, moon, stars, and galaxies, ponder the Creator of everything. The author of Psalm 97 observed, “The heavens declare his [the LORD’s] righteousness, and all the people see his glory” (97:6).
The LORD “dwellest in the heavens” (123:1), for He is Sovereign and sits upon His throne. The prophet Isaiah recorded His vision of God sitting upon His heavenly throne, writing, “I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple…[and the seraphims] cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3)
The Heart of the Psalmist: He looked to the LORD for His Will (123:2)
Consider with me four “looks” found in verse 2. The first was a look of deference: Rather than focus on the pride of his enemies, the psalmist looked to the LORD as “servants look unto the hand of their masters” (123:2a). Such a “look” expressed humility and servitude.
Following the “look” of deference was the look of dependence, for the psalmist described himself looking to the hand of the LORD to meet his needs, as “servants look unto the hand of their masters, And as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress” (123:2b). A third “look” was a look for direction, expressed in the psalmist looking, longing and waiting “upon the Lord” (123:2c). Fourthly I noticed a look of determination, for the psalmist, declared his resolve to wait upon the LORD “until that he have mercy upon us” (123:2d).
The Hope of the Psalmist: A Cry for Mercy (123:3-4)
The psalmist’s cry to the LORD appeared to be one of desperation. He cried, “Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us:” (123:3a). He had been the object of contempt, scorn, and mocking (123:3b). He longed for the LORD to fill him with his loving mercies, and grace.
Who were those who treated him with scorn? Who heaped upon him such sorrows? The psalmist identified them as “those that are at ease…the proud” (123:4). While he wrestled with sorrows, his enemies were “at ease,” complacent, lazy, and proud.
I have learned that my harshest critics are seldom those who labor faithfully for the LORD and serve His people. No, our spiritual naysayers will generally be numbered among those who are “at ease…[and] proud” (123:4).
Take a spiritual lesson from today’s psalm. Though he had suffered abuse, and lesser men might have quit, the psalmist determined to set his focus on his Creator (123:1), turn his heart to the LORD, and cry for His mercy (123:3-4). He modeled a spiritual discipline that all believers should follow:
Hope in the LORD!
Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith
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