Scripture: Psalm 123
Key Verse(s): 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. (v. 2)
Observation: The psalmist writes of his need for compassion and mercy. While given only a general description of the conflict, we are told that he has been the victim of derision (words) and contempt (action). Those who are untroubled and are leading comfortable, carefree lives are talking down to the psalmists and his fellow believers. This contempt is more than just harsh words and result in actions that cause the souls, the very being, of those on the receiving end to be damaged and they cannot take anymore of this type of treatment. On behalf of his community, the psalmist calls for God to be gracious or to show favor. The community wants God to act on their behalf to combat the mistreatment they are enduring. This is a prayer that calls for the community to look to God knowing that God will have mercy.
Analysis: We may be some what put off by the image of the slave/servant and master relationship used in this psalm. Our understanding of this relationship is understandably colored by our comprehension of the damage that has been done throughout world history by one group of people claiming the authority to relegate another group of people to a subservient role. However, in this context, the slave/servant and master relationship comes with certain responsibilities. The master does indeed have authority but with that authority comes the responsibility of providing for the needs of the slave/servant. We need not worry about God abusing God’s authority as our master. Moreover, we can count on God to fulfill the responsibility of providing for our every need. We are easily distracted from the promises of God that reassure us that we should be totally dependent on God. We find ourselves looking to possessions and people to meet our needs when we time and time again this looking in the wrong places and to the wrong people has left us feeling scorn and contempt. The psalmist calls us to take our focus off of the words and actions of people who cannot meet our needs. We are reminded that God is the only source capable of transforming our feelings of contempt and scorn to grace and mercy. Look to God!
Prayer: Great God enthroned in heaven, give us courage to live in total dependence on you. Speak to us Holy Spirit and remind us to keep our eyes on you. In the name of Jesus, Amen.