PSALMS OF ASCENT – STEP 4 – PSALM 123

In the first verse of this short four verse Psalm, David answers the question he asked in the first Psalm of Ascent, “I lift my eyes to the mountains, from where will my help come?”
He now proclaims: “To YOU I lift up my eyes, You who are enthroned in the heavens!” He continues to describe the manner and attitude in which he raises his eyes to his God and King.

Although David is one of the most powerful kings on earth, appointed by God and anointed as king of Israel by the prophet Samuel, when he is in need and seeks help he raises his eyes to the Almighty God as a servant humbly looks to his master on whom he depends for his welfare. To add to the expression of vulnerability, he expands the description in a feminine form, “…as the eyes of a serving maid to the hand of her mistress.” 

Finally, in the last three verses he concludes with a cry on behalf of the people Israel for whom he is responsible as king; the people chosen by God for Himself. The One who, ultimately, is King over all Creation and over all who are created in His image. 

Just as servants seek to serve their master and are dedicated to do his bidding, so we look to our Master/Father. All servants know that their lives, as well as their livelihood, are dependent upon their masters and they look to them with hope, trusting that they will be kind and gracious. Three times David calls on God’s grace and mercy.

Why the need, in verse 3, to repeat: “Be gracious to us”? One thought is that, both when in exile and in their land, the people of Israel are surrounded by enemies who seek either to oppress or to attack and destroy them; therefore, at all times and in every place, the gracious mercy and protective Presence of the God of Israel are earnestly sought.

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