Read: Psalm 123:1; Matthew 5:3; Hebrews 12:2
Psalm 123 presents the pilgrim lifting up his eyes to God. In order for spiritual revival to take place, we must recognize our lower position, and look up. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” said Jesus (Matthew 5:3). The Christian pilgrimage begins with lifting up our eyes to Jesus, and continues by keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
Think About It: The New English Bible translates Matthew 5:3, “Happy are those who know their need of God.” How did I come to realize my spiritual poverty, my need of God? Am I keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus? How, practically speaking, do I keep my eyes on Jesus?
Prayer: Lord, help me to lift my eyes to You and to keep my eyes on You.
Read: Psalm 123:1; Psalm 2:4; Romans 8:32 – 34; Hebrews 4:14 – 15.
The Hebrew word translated “dwells” has a very unusual spelling, having a final yod, making the pronunciation hayoshivi, instead of the usual hayoshiv. One Hebrew scholar (Rabbi Hirsch) translates this, “Who is enthroned for me in the heavens.” Although God is high and lifted up, He condescends for us.
Think About It: What are the practical and spiritual benefits for me of having a “friend in high places,” namely Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Father? What does Jesus do for me?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for being my Advocate and pleading my cause.
Read: Psalm 123:1; Isaiah 55:6 – 9; Ecclesiastes 5:2
Because God dwells in heaven, our prayers are not addressed to a god within ourselves, but to the Father in heaven. He who is holy, whose ways are as high above us as the heavens are above the earth, whose thoughts are not our thoughts, nevertheless invites us to call upon Him and promises mercy to those who repent and seek Him.
Think About It: What are some specific examples of God’s ways being higher than my ways, and His thoughts than my thoughts? While the “other-ness” of God — an aspect of His holiness — is a challenging concept, what is positive and encouraging about it?
Prayer: Praise God that His thoughts are not my thoughts, His ways not my ways; praise God for His holiness.
Read: Psalm 123:2; Psalm 32:9; Isaiah 30:20-21; Malachi 1:6
Psalm 123:2 prescribes the diligence with which the pilgrim should look towards God. The customs of the ancient east required as little speaking as possible between master and servant in the presence of guests. The wave of a hand or a glance was all that was needed to give direction, provided the servant was attentive. So the Christian is to be attentive to the Lord’s direction.
Think About It: Granted that I should pay close attention to the Lord’s direction, from what sources do I receive that direction? How do I know when I have an “order” from God?
Prayer: Lord, help me to be attentive to Your direction.
Read: Psalm 123:2; Proverbs 17:2; 27:18; Genesis 39:2 – 5; Matthew 24:46, 25:21; Luke 17:7 – 10
The servant serves faithfully until “He shall be gracious to us.” There is reward for the obedient servant.
Think About It: Read through the Scripture references for today and look for examples of faithful service and the kinds of rewards a faithful servant receives. How does this translate into my Christian life? Am I being a faithful servant?
Prayer: Lord, help me to serve You with diligence and enthusiasm.
Read: Psalm 123:3 – 4; Matthew 28:19 – 20; Hebrews 11:13 – 14; Revelation 3:17
In Psalm 123:3 – 4 the pilgrim described his plight. The pilgrim might endure with patience the occasional or isolated incident of scoffing and contempt, but his environment became saturated with it. “Those who are at ease” (or imagine themselves to be) scoff at the spiritual and material struggles of others. “Lift yourselves by your own bootstraps, like we did,” they think, failing to acknowledge their spiritual poverty and the providence of God which enabled their material ease.
Think About It: The phrase “the scoffing of those who are at ease” presumes an existence whose goal is to be at ease in this world with scorn towards those with a different goal. What is the “different goal” of the pilgrim? Is my goal to be at ease in this world, or to accomplish the mission God has given me to do?
Prayer: Lord help me to be a pilgrim, never at home in this world.
Read: Psalm 123:3; Psalm 4:1; Psalm 51:1; Luke 18:9 – 14
The double request for “mercy” or “pity” in Psalm 123:3 is the pilgrim’s response to scoffing and contempt. The pilgrim’s appeal does not prescribe what God should do, nor does the pilgrim base his plea on his personal merit. The pilgrim is in trouble; He calls out to God, based on the fact that God is merciful.
Think About It: The double appeal for mercy is thought by one commentator to indicate both the physical and spiritual dangers faced by the pilgrim. What physical dangers do I face? What spiritual dangers?
Prayer: Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.