Psalms 123

PSALM CXXIII

The prayer and faith of the godly, 1, 2.

They desire to be delivered from contempt, 3, 4.

NOTES ON PSALM CXXIII

This Psalm is probably a complaint of the captives in Babylon

relative to the contempt and cruel usage they received. The author

is uncertain.

Verse 1. Unto thee lift I up mine eyes] We have no hope but in

thee; our eyes look upward; we have expectation from thy mercy

alone.

Verse 2. As the eyes of servants] We now wait for thy commands,

feeling the utmost readiness to obey them when made known to us.

The words may be understood as the language of dependence also. As

slaves expect their support from their masters and mistresses; so

do we ours from thee, O Lord! Or, As servants look to their

masters and mistresses, to see how they do their work, that they

may do it in the same way; so do we, O Lord, that we may learn of

thee, and do thy work in thy own Spirit, and after thy own method.

Some think that there is a reference here to the chastisement of

slaves by their masters, who, during the time they are receiving

it, keep their eyes fixed on the hand that is inflicting

punishment upon them, professing deep sorrow, and entreating for

mercy. And this sense seems to be countenanced by the following

words:-

Verse 3. Have mercy upon us, O Lord] Chastise us no more; we

will no more revolt against thee.

We are exceedingly filled with contempt.] We not only suffer

grievously from our captivity, but are treated in the most

contemptuous manner by our masters.

Verse 4. Those that are at ease] The Babylonians, who, having

subdued all the people of the neighbouring nations, lived at ease,

had none to contend with them, and now became luxurious, indolent,

and insolent: they were contemptuous and proud.

ANALYSIS OF THE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-THIRD PSALM

The oppressed followers of God make application to him for

mercy. In this application they express three things:-

I. Their confidence in God.

II. Prayer for mercy.

III. An account of their oppressors.

I. Their trust in God.

1. "Unto thee lift I up mine eyes." We trust in thee alone.

2. "O thou that dwellest in the heavens." Infinitely raised

above us; but affected with our miserable condition, and always

ready to help us.

This he shows by a double similitude:-

1. "As the eyes of servants," i.e., men-servants, "look unto the

hand of their masters."

2. "As the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress:" both

might be beaten; and here both beg to be saved from farther

stripes.

3. "So our eyes," &c. God's children are always looking up to

him.

4. "Until that he have mercy;" abate his stripes, and take off

his hand.

II. Their prayer for mercy.

1. Before they lifted their eyes to God, but now they cry for

mercy.

For this crying, they give the following reasons:-

1. "We are exceedingly filled with contempt." To suffer contempt

is much; to be filled with it is more; and to be exceedingly

filled with it is worst of all.

2. We are scorned: they join words and actions to show how

much they despise us.

III. They give the character of those by whom they suffer.

1. They are at ease-loaded with wealth, and sunk in indolence.

2. They are proud-puffed up with a sense of their own

importance; and this leads them to despise others. Proud men are

for the most part empty, shallow-pated men: and contempt and scorn

from such wounds deeply; especially if they rise, as they often

do, from the dunghill. The sick lion in the fable found it

extremely galling to be kicked by the foot of an ass.

Copyright information for Clarke