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The Blue Letter Bible

David Guzik :: Study Guide for Psalm 123

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Psalm 123 - Looking to the Lord for Mercy in Affliction

A. The afflicted looks to the Lord.

1. (Psa 123:1) Where to look.

A Song of Ascents.
Unto You I lift up my eyes,
O You who dwell in the heavens.

a. A Song of Ascents: This is another in the series of Psalms sung by pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem at feast time. These songs give us a pattern of preparation to meet with God and His people.

b. Unto You I lift up my eyes: The Psalmist declares his intention and action - to lift up his eyes to the Lord. This means that his eyes are not on his circumstances or self, but on the Lord.

c. O You who dwell in the heavens: By remembering where God is, the Psalmist grows in trust and confidence. Earth may have no mercy or help, but heaven has an abundant supply for us.

2. (Psa 123:2) How to look.

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.

a. As the eyes of servants [look] to the hand of their masters: The idea is like a waiter or a butler standing behind their master seated at dinner. The servant looks to the hand of their masters for the slightest indication of need or want, to instantly meet the need. With that same intensity, devotion, and steadfastness the Psalmist looks to God.

b. Until He has mercy on us: This is how long the Psalmist will focus his attention towards the Lord. He does not demand an immediate answer, but will persevere patiently until the Lord extends His mercy.

B. The afflicted pleads for mercy.

1. (3a) The request for mercy.

Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us!

a. Have mercy on us: The Psalmist isn't content to only wait for mercy; he intensely pleads for it. He demonstrates that waiting on the Lord is not a passive thing.

2. (3b-4) The reason for mercy.

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

a. For we are exceedingly filled with contempt: The Psalmist needs God's intervention and mercy because he felt filled with the contempt put on him by others.

i. Sometimes others dish out contempt to us and it just rolls off like water off of a duck's back. Other times we take contempt from others and we let us fill us - sometimes until we are exceedingly filled. These times lay us low and make us feel that only the mercy of God can save us.

b. With the contempt of the proud: This makes the contempt heaped on the Psalmist even worse - knowing it comes from the proud and arrogant.

i. Nevertheless, this Psalm is filled with the unspoken confidence that the mercy of God will triumph over the contempt of the proud.

© 2002 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Study Guide for Job 1 ← Prior Book
Study Guide for Proverbs 1 Next Book →
Study Guide for Psalm 119 ← Prior Chapter
Study Guide for Proverbs 1 Next Chapter →
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