Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 123

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Read Psalm 123

A song of ascents.

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

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.

Go Deeper

No matter where we are, some form of hierarchy is at play all around us. At the bank, the teller answers to the bank president. On an airplane, the flight attendant takes direction from the captain. At the pool, the lifeguard with the whistle reigns over the waters, even if that lifeguard is a teenager. We inherently acknowledge and respect hierarchies of authority. And within those rules, sometimes written and sometimes unwritten, we have expectations of how all parties should act. 

In Psalm 123, we see four different relationships at play, each with different expectations. The writer opens the psalm by looking up to God enthroned in heaven. That’s one relationship. Then he compares his own posture to a slave looking up to his master, or a maidservant looking up to her master. That’s three relationships. Man and God, a male slave and his slave owner, and a maidservant and her mistress. The fourth relationship is revealed in verse 4, when we discover that the people of God have endured contempt and ridicule from the proud, presumably from neighboring nations or those who reject the truth of God. One people group ridicules another people group. That’s four relationships. 

The cry of the psalmist, and the underlying motivation for writing this psalm, is for God to show Israel mercy. Our God is unique. His character is unique. We serve a God who offers mercy, who is marked by his merciful nature. He’s different from the slavemaster. He’s different from the strong nation mocking the rival nation. God does not proudly mock nor does He abuse His authority. He breaks the world’s expectations. We can be confident of His mercy because He has displayed it for generations. We serve a merciful God, even as we are subservient to Him. 


  1. Think about the relationships in all facets of your life (work, church, family, community). How would you classify the hierarchies in those relationships? 
  2. In times of guilt or suffering, where are you tempted to turn other than God?
  3. When you cry out to God, what do you expect?

Listen Here

This is a song from John Mark Pantana called “Made for Jesus”. Let this song flood over your heart today as a prayer of gratitude.

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3 thoughts on “Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 123”

  1. The life of a Christ-follower is a moment by moment process of sanctification. It’s living in the tension of knowing that God is reconciling this broken world through his Son and the testimonies of believers on mission with him. It’s where we cast our gaze, either lifting our eyes to sovereign God in heaven, or on the evil around us that will define the condition of our hearts. I’m reminded of the stunning example of Stephen who was recorded in scripture as the first martyr for his faith in Christ. Here is a bit of his story:
    •he as full of God’s grace and power” and accomplished “great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8).
    • he was servant-hearted and met the needs of widows (Acts 6:3-6)
    • he contended openly in public for spiritual wisdom and truth (Acts 6:10).
    • Opponents rose up and forced him into the Counsel and falsely accused him of speaking against Moses and the Law (Acts 6:13).
    • Stephen responded by sharing an overview of Israel’s history and challenging them to repent of killing Jesus and for murdering the prophets (Acts 7).
    •Enemies responded by gnashing their teeth and prepared to silence him by stoning him to death.
    •As this was happening, Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit, “he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” and he said,“Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56).
    •As he was being violently stoned his reply was “Even so, Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit” (Acts 7:59).
    • Finally, at the very end, Stephen uttered his last words, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60).
    When facing oppression and evil Stephen’s example was full of love, forgiveness and grace. (Paul, before his miraculous conversion witnessed the stoning of Stephen.) Be assured that God both hears and welcomes our cries and longs to fulfill the deepest needs of our hearts. We must wait upon him where we will always find grace and mercy in time of need. Let’s remind each other to cast our eyes on Jesus.

  2. “Made for Jesus” is a beautiful song that caused me to tear up each time I listened to it thinking how much Jesus loves me and loves you.

    “We are made for walks in the cool of the day with you.” (Jesus)

    What a blessing and wonderful reminder. Thanks BRP team for sharing!

  3. Waiting. That is a hard place to be is in the waiting. BUT GOD is always always present and moving. Rick and I were discussing this morning about the absence of light is dark but you do not measure the dark only the light. The absence of heat is cold but you can not measure cold only heat. BUT GOD is love and you can only measure love not evil. God designed this so that we could understand Him better. You can only know what you can measure. We go by feelings more than anything which is human nature. BUT GOD wants us to look to Him as the SOURCE. To turn our eyes to seek His face. To rest in Him as that source, to wait on Him as that source, and to breath Him knowing that He is that source. Our eyes must remain on Him as this source as He shows us favor not just looking to His hand for blessings. Waiting but knowing that God will do and has done over and over again beyond all we can ask or imagine.

    God I am so thankful for Your love that I can never have the words to express myself. I will keep on praising, giving You the glory, honor and thanks for my breath, my blessings, my waitings, my anxiousness, my trials, my joy, my happiness, my gratitude, my new knowledge of You everyday that is so amazing. God I want to seek Your face and not Your hand. I want more of You!!! Thank You for my eyes of understanding as I search Your Word and talk to You that it is all about You and more of what I need to know to better share the Gospel. Thank You that I lift up my eyes to You, to You who sit enthroned in heaven in Jesus name amen

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