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Songs of Ascent- Psalm 123

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posted on Sep, 24 2021 @ 05:06 PM
Cards on the table. The Psalms are not really my thing. Even in poetry, I prefer narrative to lyric. So while I’m looking at this group of Psalms, I won’t rely entirely on my own conclusions. I’ll separate out my own observations (in this first post) from what I find in commentaries and add in the later posts..

Psalm 123

“To thee I lift up my eyes, O thou who art enthroned in the heavens” (v1)

Here “lifting up the eyes” is obviously the act of looking for help from the protector.
That is part of my argument for interpreting “I lift up my eyes to the hills” (Psalm 121) in the same way.

“As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress…” (v2)
And how do these servants look? Is it in fear?
No, the point is that their master and mistress feed them, so they look to their hands in hope, looking to find food.

That is confirmed by the conclusion of the sentence;
“So our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he have mercy upon us”.

Then we begin to realise how intensely the people desire mercy and help from the only one who can protect them;
“For we have had more than enough of contempt… the scorn of those who are at ease, the contempt of the proud” (vv3-4).
They are living in a state of humiliation, which can only be explained on the supposition that the people have gone through the Babylonian experience, the destruction of the kingdom and the exile.

The phrase “those who are at ease” confirms that point. It is an echo from the opening chapter of Zechariah, which comes from the Persian period. The four horsemen have just reported that “all the earth remains at rest”. Then the angel of the Lord expresses his indignation because this “rest” comes at the expense of Jerusalem and Judah, who are not at rest. “I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, and I am very angry with the nations that are at ease” (v15).

The reconstruction of the Temple began in Zechariah’s time.
I believe this kind of language points out this psalm, and probably all the “psalms of ascent”, as composed for use in the newly rebuilt second Temple.

edit on 24-9-2021 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Sep, 24 2021 @ 05:07 PM
The above are my own independent thoughts on the psalm. Having got that far, I will now open up Weiser’s commentary bought a couple of years ago, discover (probably) a number of insights which haven’t occurred to me, and add them here.

The worshipper “is aware of the immense difference between his human powerlessness and the greatness of the power of the heavenly king… His words express humble submission, but at the same time humble trust.”

Weiser is struck by the plural of “servants” in v2, so he sees this as the moment when the worshipper moves from personal appeal to a sense of fellowship of prayer with his fellow-believers. He thinks (I disagree) that fear of punishment and timidity may be at least part of the overall picture..

It expresses reverential awe, but also trustful hope in God’s fatherly care. They are not pressing their human desires on him, but they are satisfied to wait patiently, despite the urgency of their concern.


And Matthew Henry?

“Heaven is a place of prospect and a place of power; he that dwells there beholds thence all the calamities of his people and thence can send to save them.”

“The eyes of a servant are to his master’s directing hand, expecting that he will appoint him his work”, and the servant is also expecting his “daily bread” If the servant meets with opposition in his work, his master will support him. Hypocrites expect their reward from the world, but true Christians have their eye to God.

He reads “those who are at ease and the proud” as the epicures of the world, the carnal, sensual people. [So he does not notice and pick up the echo from Zechariah.]

edit on 24-9-2021 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)


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