“Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.”
~Psalm 123:3 (NRSV).
This verse above transitions the psalmist’s real intent of prayer from praise to lament. It proves a point to the relief of anyone (this would be all of us) who has ever prayed a prayer of veiled praise in order to gain relief from life’s ills.
The structure of this psalm is a simple one. Verses 1-2 focus on proclaiming conviction to God. Verses 3-4 lament the circumstance of contempt in the midst of the proud.
The general response of the psalmist is the key though.
They lift their eyes.
Lesson 1 – In Distress, Look with the Eyes to the Hand of God
Where there is more than enough reason for anguish and nothing can be done, what more is to be done than look heavenward, seeking the Lord to pour a healing torrent on the contempt being dealt with?
It is never the acceptable thing to divert our look, either pitying our own situation or angling at the perpetrator. We go to God, our Mediator.
Lesson 2 – Patience is Promised
“... so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
until he has mercy upon us.”
~Psalm 123:2c (NRSV).
If only we have the spiritual resilience and fortitude to remain as long as God asks us to remain. We don’t know the purposes the Lord has in mind for this situation that condemns and overwhelms us; all that can be done is issue and re-issue the promise to wait patiently. It almost seems like a cliché!
But, it’s endemic in the process of life; we’re all under God’s anointing. Nothing occurs without the acceding of the Lord’s will.
Lesson 3 – The Salubrious Power of Repentance
Rather than issuing worldly laments (i.e. whinging complaints) we’re destined to repent of our dismay by returning to God and seek the favour and mercy of the Almighty. This is a formula for blessing beyond our momentary comprehension.
A wondrous protection is afforded us in the instant of repentance. Nothing else can claim us as we enter the Sanctuary—the Presence of the Lord.
This is blessing for the moment, and all moments we repent.
Later blessing is bound to come, for God’s nature is to bless the repentant ones.
God seeks us first and foremost to look with our eyes unerringly to heaven; that is in disaster and triumph and all between.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.