# 356 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 123. Simple, truthful, natural and sincere.

Artur Weiser says concerning this psalm that it is “one of the finest examples of piety [i.e., devotion to God], expressed in prayer – simple, truthful, natural and sincere.” (# 27)

It is the 4th of the 15 song of ascents and so try and imagine the pilgrims either singing this prayer -poem on the way to Jerusalem or in the city itself, joining with all the others who have come from far places to worship God their King to whom the psalmist says:

I lift up my eyes to you,
    to you who sit enthroned in heaven.

No matter what our circumstances, the one thing that never changes is that God, our King, sits enthroned in heaven, or as Psalm 93 says, The Lord reigns!

The Lord reigns, he is robed in majesty;
    the Lord is robed in majesty and armed with strength;
    indeed, the world is established, firm and secure.
Your throne was established long ago;
    you are from all eternity. 
(Psalm 93:1-2)

And so, the psalmist knows where to look for the help he and his people need. He looks up and he says to the Lord, I lift up my eyes to you.

W G Scroggie says “His eyes are not cast down, but lifted up. The only hope of any of us is to look, not within, not around, but above… To look for God the singer had to look up, because the God to Whom he looked is throned in the heavens. If we see our God through our enemies, we will have a little God; but if we see them through Him, they will be as grasshoppers [see Numbers 13:33]” (# 41)

The psalmist continues:

As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    till he shows us his mercy.

He compares the lifting of his eyes to God with that of slaves looking to the hand of their master/mistress. The New Living Translation puts it:

 We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy,
    just as servants keep their eyes on their master,
    as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal.

Scroggie continues:

“Oriental slaves, standing in the presence of their masters and mistresses, watched every movement of their hand, that they might know what to do, when and where to go; they watched the hand that they might promptly obey. The psalmist too watches the hand, but not for the same reason, he looks to God, not for a command, but for assistance; not for an order, but for grace… [till he shows us his mercy] which indicates that the psalmist is sure his God will come to his aid.” (# 41)

And so, he prays this “simple, truthful, natural and sincere” prayer:

Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us,
    for we have endured no end of contempt.
We have endured no end
    of ridicule from the arrogant,
    of contempt from the proud.

Weiser adds:

His prayer “expresses reverential awe, submission and humility, which are the result of the awareness of being utterly dependent on the sovereign will and power of God… it also expresses at the same time devoted love and trustful hope in the fatherly care that God, as the Lord, will give his own. It is only when both these sentiments combine that the genuine attitude of prayer is achieved.” (# 27)

And so, the psalmist asks God simply, Have mercy on us! He has had more than enough of the contempt and ridicule that he, and others like him, have had to endure from the arrogant … from the proud, and his desire is for God to intervene and give him a break and bring his suffering to an end.

If, for some reason, you can identify with the psalmist in his situation, then here is a great example of what to do. Firstly, look to God, acknowledging that He reigns and has the desire and the power to deliver you. Then confidently, pray a similar “simple, truthful, natural and sincere” prayer – Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us. Then wait patiently on Him, with your eyes look[ing] to the Lord our God, till he shows [you] his mercy. Amen.

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