By He Reads Truth
Scripture Reading: Psalm 123
The Christian life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. As Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, but we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were sung by worshipers as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. In this 3-week reading plan, we are digging into these traveling songs with the help of short summary essays and thoughtful, reflective questions for each psalm. Take your pack on your shoulder and walk with us as we pursue God together.
Psalm 123 (CSB)
LOOKING FOR GOD’S FAVOR
A song of ascents.
1 I lift my eyes to you,
the one enthroned in heaven.
2 Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand,
like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand,
so our eyes are on the LORD our God
until he shows us favor.
3 Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,
for we’ve had more than enough contempt.
4 We’ve had more than enough
scorn from the arrogant
and contempt from the proud.
A Song About Who We Are
The pilgrim-disciple meditates on who he is to God, and who God is to him.
Who gets to tell us who we are? Many voices will try to answer that question for us. For the pilgrim-disciple, our Maker is the only one who has that right. Our goal in life is to grow in our understanding of who God is and who we are in our relationship with Him.
1. This psalm promotes enthusiastic obedience to God’s commands. The servant watches for the master’s hand to beckon. Why does it make sense to desire the instruction of the Lord? Why should we be eager to hear His commands?
2. This psalm asks God for mercy. What are some specific things we are asking for when we ask God to show us mercy? What sorts of things must we be willing to surrender when we ask God for mercy?
3. We cannot know all there is to know about God, but God has revealed Himself in part. What has God made known to us about Himself? What has He revealed about who we are?
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4 thoughts on "Longing for the Nearness of God"
1) This psalm talks about God’s MERCY. Mercy is different than grace. Mercy is God withholding the judgment we deserve. Mercy is God’s patience with us. The psalmist is asking God to be merciful to them because of the oppression they are under from their enemy. This judgment is deserved, but the psalmist appeals to God’s mercy, just as a slave appeals to their master. A slave, captured during wartime or sold to pay off a debt, realizes that their whole life is in the hands of their master. We look to God knowing that our life rests in the Master’s hands.
2) When we ask for God’s mercy, we are recognizing our own sin and failure. We are asking for God’s forgiveness. We give up our own ability to be “right” and recognize that God’s way is right. We must humble ourselves before God.
3) God has revealed himself to be full of mercy. Hebrews 4:16 reminds us, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive MERCY and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Because of the cross, we can find mercy. Because of the cross, God has made a way to punish sin by punishing his Son in our place. Because of the cross, we can be delivered from the arrogant and the proud as the Pilgrim-Disciple longed for
Knowing your purpose is a wonderfully secure feeling. In obeying our Lord’s commands, we find ourselves in a position of having a distinct and distinctive purpose.
In asking for mercy, we recognize two things. The first is that often, our way was not the best way. Whenever I have found myself in a position where I have wanted to cry out for mercy, it is often my own mistakes that have caused that position. The need for mercy is accompanied by humility and repentance.
The second thing is that we realize we need a saviour. That we are not enough. The God is our protector, fighting for us.
After all, He has fought our biggest enemies already, and defeated them in glorious style.
Help me to be merciful just as you are merciful.
1) if we truly believe God has a plan for us, we should want to hear Him speak and provide us wisdom and guidance. It’s hard because if He calls us to go, we should keep going until we hear a new message. When I get unsure of myself or lose momentum, it’s easy to blame God for not making it easy. But He has sent me and I must press on – even in the face of adversity or criticism.
2) mercy can come in many forms but primarily as I waver, I tend to sin. When I find myself off the path, it’s mercy that I need. I need to know that my Merciful God is the one pouring out Grace. It makes it all the more sweet. At the request of mercy, I’m (at least) attempting to give over the temptations and false thoughts that have led me to stray in the first place. It’s hard to feel like I’ve successfully surrendered when I find myself back in the same mess again again.
3) I know that God wants me to turn back to him. My stubbornness is strong , but when I turn back to him, I can feel a rush of weight being lifted off my shoulders. Stupid me likes to carry that weight as long as possible. If only I could remember the freedom of giving it up from the last time instead of choosing to carry the weight even longer this go-around.
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