October 28th – Les Kovacs Psalm 123
Observe: Psalm 123 is the fourth of the Songs of Ascent. It is a short prayer for God’s mercy towards His servant. In the first and second verses, the psalmist lifts their eyes to Him who is enthroned in heaven as would a servant who looks to their master to provide all the things needed for their life and livelihood. In the third and fourth verses, the servant asks the Lord for mercy as they endure continual mocking from arrogant and contemptuous people.
Interpret: The psalms referred to as the Songs of Ascent are generally accepted as songs sung by pilgrims going up the hill to Jerusalem for the three required annual festivals. Psalm 123 is only four verses long, but it is profoundly deep, and expresses a marvelous truth for the believer. It confirms that we are servants of the Lord Most High, and therefore, we confidently rely on God for all our provision, including mercy from our daily trials. When the psalmist describes the contempt they experience from the mockers along the way, they are describing the scorn that their contemporaries held for the believers, and how their faith in the one true God sets them apart from the pagan world. This difference in worldviews is the foundation of the animosity of the pagans and causes the psalmist to seek shelter and relief in the mercy of the Lord.
Application: Being a follower of Christ in any age has always caused us to be different from the world around us. We rely on the provision, guidance, mercy and ultimate salvation of the Lord, but the world relies on its own wisdom and might to navigate life. When we imitate Christ with the attitude of a servant who places the needs of others before ourselves, it is seen as being weak and beneath the dignity of an independent person who follows their own path. Being a servant is seen as an insult to a person of the world. Often times, very wealthy people or celebrities, with their inflated egos, can be seen treating their own personal staff, or the waitstaff when they are out and about, with disdain for doing whatever humble or mundane tasks they themselves would never stoop to doing. When they endorse a charity, they will often call attention to themselves to show their generosity and so make it all about themselves, and less about those in actual need. So, when we speak the truth of the Gospel and live our lives to the glorification of God, we often gain the scorn and derision of our fellow man. These people, Jesus says, have already gained their reward.
When we see the worldly successes of others, we might be tempted to follow in their footsteps and increase our worldly possessions or influence or fame, but these are fleeting pleasures, hollow prizes that are easily lost, stolen or tarnished.
Following Christ, on the other hand, means that we store up our treasures in heaven. This is an inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled and will not fade away (1 Peter 1:4). Imitating Jesus, our Servant King, means that we understand our reliance on God for our “daily bread”. We bend our knee to Him and acknowledge Him as our master. Everything that we have and are is because of His blessings poured out on us every day. Our hope for today, tomorrow, and for all eternity is based firmly on God's unchanging love and unfailing mercy. Every morning His love and mercy toward us are refreshed, revitalized, like a brilliant new sunrise. The one reward that Christians prize above all else is to one day hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant”. (Matthew 25:23)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you placed us on this earth with a purpose to serve you. Yet we sometimes stray from your path and do things that do not please you. We seek your mercy upon us that we may find favor in you and be delivered from the wrong path. Set us on the right path and equip us with the courage to act as your instruments in this world. May all that we do glorify and exalt your name forever. Amen.
Song: Mercies (New Every Morning) – Matt Redman
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.