Psalmody Psunday: Ps. 123

Who can resist that kind of alliteration?  I know I can't.  I've had this idea kicking around for a while, but this weekend I finally got around to putting it into action.

First, I should say that the reason things have been quiet on the blog front this weekend is because my dear cousin Chandra is in town from the other Portland (i.e. the one in Maine) and I've wanted to spend time with her more than be online.  We've been hanging out with mutual friends Sarah and Joel over the weekend, which has been nice for us and paradisiacal for the kids.

Chandra is herself a writer and bloggeress when she's not jetting all over the country for her job with Stenhouse Publishers, and she's also a devoted Christ-follower, so I made her an offer she was unlikely to refuse: join me in choosing a Psalm at random, then read it and spend 10 minutes of writing reflectively upon it.  As I suspected, she was game. She got Psalm 86, I got Psalm 123.

Psalm 123

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to you,
    to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
    as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    till he shows us his mercy.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us,
    for we have endured no end of contempt.
We have endured no end
    of ridicule from the arrogant,
    of contempt from the proud.
Here are my 10 minutes' worth of reflections:
Maybe it's just because it's Lent, but I'm really sensing the parallels in this Psalm to Jesus' ministry and perfect obedience.  Jesus always lifted his eyes to His Father in heaven and to the throne He willingly left behind for his painful sojourn on the earth.  

He took on the subservience of a slave and a handmaid in looking always to God.

He suffered much contempt and ridicule from the Pharisees and even from his own hometown, where he was treated as a prophet with no honor.  

And He received very little relief from these attacks--in the garden of Gethsemane he pleaded for mercy, yet ended with the obedient prayer, "Not my will but Thine be done."

In my Bible it notes that this is a "psalm of ascents"…not sure exactly what that means, but again, given its somewhat melancholy and pleading tone, I think of Jesus' ascent to the Mount of Olives and to the hill of Golgotha, carrying His cross.  

Also with slaves and handmaids, I can't help but think of Paul naming himself a bondservant (slave) to Christ and Mary proclaiming herself to be the handmaiden of the Lord.  Both were willing to lay down their lives in different ways.  Paul did die for the cause of spreading the gospel of Christ.  Mary experienced what was perhaps a pain worse than death: seeing her son, whom she knew to be the best of sons and the most blameless of men mercilessly killed before her eyes.

Does that mean that God didn't show mercy?  Perhaps not in the way that we desire it and expect it, or not in our sense of timing.  But Paul, Mary, and Jesus certainly would all sing the praises of God's mercy, even though all three seemingly went without it at their respective hours of greatest need.

It was neat to write these and then share.  I hope Chandra eventually puts hers on her blog because it was awesome!  She made the great suggestion that we write about the same Psalm instead of different ones.  Next Sunday I'm going to write about Psalm 71 (I'll choose them randomly just to keep it interesting!)  Feel free to join us.  You only have to write for 10 minutes (I mean, you can always do more, but hopefully that keeps it manageable if Sunday is a busy day for you) and if you want to share on your blog or in the combox, by all means do!


  1. Just catching up on your old blog entries and Chandra's now, Jenny; love your lenten reflection on this. Psalms of ascent, btw, were the songs sung while on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as for Passover.


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