Psalm 123 – The Amplified Bible
- Unto You do I lift up my eyes, O You Who are enthroned in heaven.
- Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, and 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 and loving-kindness for us.
- Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on and loving-kindness for us,
- Our life is exceedingly filled with the scorning and scoffing of those who are at ease and with the contempt of the proud (irresponsible tyrants who disregard God’s law).
Building on our last lesson regarding where we are focusing our attention, Beth starts this lesson off by saying, “If I have low expectations, skewed feelings, and impaired spiritual hearing, my eyes are either looking at myself or out at people and circumstances.” If we are to lift our expectations, align our feelings, and hear from God, we need to be focusing UP on Him.
Several things stood out to me in this lesson:
1. The Hebrew term translated “contempt” comes from a root that means “to disrespect.”
The Hebrews were a bunch of disrespected people surrounded by “irresponsible tyrants who disregard God’s law.” My how that parallels where we are today. Disrespect means to treat rudely or scornfully – to treat someone as less important or beneath you. Beth says:
Disrespect is not the same as disagreement. We can strongly disagree and still treat people with respect. Disrespect devalues them.
Disrespect is treating someone as inferior or simply not worth the courtesy. In a nutshell, it is the disregard of innate human value.
This is a problem that is running rampant in our society today. People can’t seem to disagree without the end result being a free-for-all. People who claim to be “Christians” are just as bad as non-Christians when it comes to mud-slinging. Sometimes they are better at it. And often it is aimed at other Christians who might not hold the exact same opinions as they do. In the words of Paul, “these things ought not be so.”
2. We don’t have to just take the attacks of others lying down, nor do we have to fight back in the same mud-slinging manner. We can go to God with our frustrations.
We can’t always escape frustrating situations (or people) by walking away. This is true in jobs, marriages, families – all relationships. Beth says, “Psalm 123 . . . stands as permission to come to God – not arrogantly or with our own expression of disrespect but on our knees – as a servant looks to her master.”
I think it is okay for us to defend ourselves or other people if we can do it without being a jerk ourselves. Beth says, “If God wills you to action, have the courage to do what He leads.” I have sometimes failed miserably at this because I moved first without seeking God’s approval. That is when I just need to keep my mouth shut and start talking to God about it.
3. It is okay to ask God to shut our enemies up.
At first, this doesn’t seem like a very “Christian” thing to do. The Psalms, however, are full of instances where God’s people asked – even begged – Him to deliver them from those who oppress them. Psalm 35 says:
- Plead my cause, O LORD, with those who strive with me; Fight against those wo fight against me.
- Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help.
- Also draw out the spear, and stop those who pursue me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.”
- Let those be put to shame and brought to dishonor who seek after my life; let those be turned back and brought to confusion who plot my hurt.
I have also been reading in Nehemiah. I blogged before about the way the journey of the exiles back from Babylon and the rebuilding of the city wall of Jerusalem tied in with the Psalms of Ascent. I don’t think it is coincidence that, while studying this particular psalm, I was re-reading this particular passage in Nehemiah chapter 4:
But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. (verse 1)
Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity! Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders. (prayer of Nehemiah in verse 4)
God gets angry when His children are treated badly – mocked, ridiculed, scorned. The chapter goes on to tell us that God confounded the plans of Israel’s enemies. I think some of the problems we face with ridicule occur because we don’t seek God’s assistance in dealing with it. We ask for patience and the ability to be long-suffering, but we don’t ask God to step in and shut them up for us. So He gives us what we ask for, and so the attacks just keep coming. I wonder what would happen if, in addition to asking God to give us the ability to deal with critizers, we would ask Him to deal with them on His own terms and in His own way?
4. Ridicule is a very effective tool of Satan.
We see it every day from the media. They latch onto every stupid thing a fanatic might do or say in public and apply to all Christians. “Religious right” and “conservative” are now four-letter words.
Pick at someone enough and they will unravel. I have seen this in my own family. My Christian parents were constantly tearing into each other, oftentimes in front of my brother and me. There was no turning of the other cheek in our house. It was tremendously damaging to their testimony to us. It is a miracle we didn’t turn completely away from God. If not for the strong Bible-based church we were going to, we might have. Not surprisingly, they ended up divorced, and proceeded to continue tearing into each other whenever they were around each other. I love my parents, and my Dad has since gone to be with God, so I wish I could say this more gently, but a lot of children turn away from the church because of the hypocrisy of their parents.
5. When we focus on God we realize that no one else matters. Our worth comes from Him, not the opinions of others.
Beth says, “Beloved, according to God’s precious Word, if you belong to Jesus Christ, you’ve already been transformed into God’s treasure. You are already the closest of family.”
Romans 8:17 says:
If we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ.”
My worth doesn’t come from how much money I have, what clothes I wear, what kind of car I drive, where I live, or who I know – none of those things the world values so much. My worth comes from God, who would have sent His Son to die for only me. I am a child of the King, and I have worth because He bestows it upon me.
My Psalm 123:
I look up to You, the One who sits enthroned on high. I will come before You on my face like a servant until You show me mercy. Have mercy on me, God, have mercy on me, for I have endured much mistreatment. I have endured being taken advantage of by those who have it easy, and been cheated by those who look out for themselves.