1 A song of ascents.
I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven.
2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he shows us his mercy. 3a Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us,
3b for we have endured much contempt. 4 We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant
Psalm 123—The LORD who is Lord
(Verse 1) This ‘song of ascents’ focuses on worshipping the ‘LORD our God’. All prayers and praise should be directed to Him, whether in a building or not. The temple enables God’s people to worship God together. We cannot do that unless and until we have come to know Him as our LORD and our God. That means two things. First, we have turned from our sins in repentance and understood that the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Son, died in our place on the cross to bear in His body our sins and God’s punishment for them. Second, we have yielded our hearts and lives to our risen and ever-living Lord and Saviour, when we came in prayer to Him to ask Him to forgive us and enter into our lives. So, we now know the LORD God as ‘our’ Lord and Saviour. LORD (L-O-R-D all in block letters) means ‘Jehovah’. This is not a description of God, but a personal name for Him. It presents our God as the only one true living God, and as a Person. ‘Lord’, (not in blocks), describes a person who is in overall charge. The Lord Jesus Christ is both ‘LORD’ (‘Jehovah’) and ‘Lord’ (the One in overall charge). He is our personal God who is in charge of all things. That is why He is called ‘King of kings, and Lord of lords’ in Revelation 17:14. If we know Jesus as our ‘Lord’ we can, in prayer, lift our eyes to Him as our ‘LORD God’ who saved and saves us from sin, death and Hell, and will welcome us into Heaven after death, where He is worshipped forever! Jesus, our ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’, has His throne both in Heaven, and in the hearts of every born-again Christian. Is He your Lord?
(Verse 2-3a) A slave in Israel was under the master’s or mistress’s control. Slaves did not debate what to do; they simply kept their eyes on their owners who gave them ‘the nod’, or looked at them to tell them to come to them, or signalled with their hand. The slaves served them and did what they were told. We are told to look to God in prayer like that for a different reason—to receive His loving mercy. When we look to God in our need for forgiveness and help, He answers us in His grace, and gives us the mercy we so much need. He never says, ‘No,’ if our heart is right as we look to Him.
(Verse 3b-4) But God’s mercy not only caused our sins to be forgiven and shows that God accepts us through Christ. God also gives us many smaller ‘mercies.’ Lamentation 3:22-23 states, ‘Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.’ Some Bible versions translate ‘compassions’ as ‘mercies.’ The Hebrew word also means that. God loves you and wants to help you to deal with your life and its problems. Here, God’s people suffer much contempt and ridicule from proud and arrogant unbelievers. Christians worldwide face that, and worse, today. What is the answer? Keep close to the Lord, pray for your opposers, and ask for God to help you love them for Christ’s sake. Jesus said, in Matthew 6:43-45, ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.’ God blesses all who do that. But we need a changed heart and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power to live like that.