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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

January 31 2024

Wednesday January 31

A Plea for Mercy


Psalm 123:1-4 

A Song of Ascents.

1 Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens.

2 Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, Until He has mercy on us.

3 Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us! For we are exceedingly filled with contempt.

4 Our soul is exceedingly filled With the scorn of those who are at ease, With the contempt of the proud.


Psalm 123 is the fourth of the fifteen “Ascent Psalms”, also called the “Pilgrim Psalms”. This is another of the songs of degrees which have no named authorship but as some believe it was possibly written by King Hezekiah. It definitely fits the setting of the Assyrian invasion of Judah and the encirclement of Jerusalem by the armies of Sennacherib. The immediate occasion was probably the blasphemous, contemptuous speech of Rabshakeh in which he tried to subvert the loyalty of the besieged defenders of the city (Isaiah 36-37).


It is not until we read verse 4 that we discover the burden of the writer: the constant persecution of the people of Israel, being treated with scorn and contempt. Has any nation ever suffered the way Israel has suffered? During the post-exilic years, Israel also suffered the ridicule and scorn of their Gentile neighbors (Neh. 2:19; 4:1-4, 7). This psalm speaks about the God who is enthroned in heaven whose hand would work for His people, and you find both of these themes in Ezra and Nehemiah. The psalm begins in the first-person singular (I, my), but then changes to the plural (we, our, us). Perhaps this was a communal prayer, begun by a priest or Levite (v. 1), continued by a choir (v. 2), and closed by the congregation (vv. 3-4). Of course, God's people today are also suffering because of their commitment to Christ (John 16:30). According to missiologists, more Christians were martyred in the twentieth century than in all the previous centuries combined!


When we find ourselves among the slandered, ridiculed, and persecuted, where do we turn for help? The psalm gives three answers to that question. First, we should look by faith to God's throne (v. 1). Of course, with our human eyes, we cannot see God on His throne, but with the eyes of faith we see Him as we believe the Word. "My eyes are toward the Lord" (Psalm 25:15). To look toward the Lord means to trust Him and turn our problems over to Him by faith. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). God's throne is mentioned often in the book of Psalms (9:4, 7; 11:4; 45:6; 47:8; 93:2; 97:2; 103:9), and to believers today, His throne is a throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16). The life of faith begins by looking to the Lord by faith and trusting Him for salvation (Isa. 45:22). The life of faith continues as we keep our eyes of faith on Jesus (Heb. 12:2), and it will climax with faith becoming sight and we'll see Jesus in His glory (1 John 3:1-2).


Second, we should look by faith to God's hand (v. 2). In eastern countries, masters often commanded their servants by means of hand signals, so the servants kept their eyes on the master's hand. This is what gave them direction for their work. But the master's hand was also the source of their provision, what they needed for their daily sustenance. Finally, the master's hand protected them in times of danger. So, it is with God's people today: our direction, provision, and protection all come from our Master's hand and His hand never fails.


Finally, we should look for God's mercy and grace (vv. 3-4). The exiles from Israel had spent seventy years in Babylon. Most of the older ones died and at least two new generations were born. Now, about 50,000 of these people were trying to rebuild their temple, restore their city, and revitalize their nation. This was not an easy task, and the nations around them did not want Israel back on the scene again. The Persian rulers who had promised to help them did not always keep their promises, or the local Persian officers interfered with the announced plans. It was another evidence of the hatred the Gentiles had for the Jews. "We have endured much contempt" (v. 3). (Neh. 2:19; 4:1-4, 7; Lam. 3:15, 30.) But God chooses and uses the despised things of this world (1 Cor. 1:28). After all, our salvation was purchased by One who was "despised and rejected of men" (Isa. 53:3).


If you find yourself laughed at and criticized because you belong to Jesus Christ, you are part of a very elite group, and you do not have to be embarrassed or start looking for a place to hide! There is grace available at the throne of grace from the God of all grace, so lift your eyes of faith to Him.


God bless!

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