Reading: 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 (NIV).*
Like every parent, I have had moments when I have needed to correct my children. In my professional life as a teacher, correcting a child’s behavior was a daily, sometimes minute-to-minute occurrence. In such situations eye contact is crucial. If the child does not make eye contact with you, you are wasting your breath. Your advice—your admonition—your warning—is going nowhere. You might as well speak to the wind. But in such situations, it is essential that you speak to the heart of the child.
The eyes are the window of the heart. When someone is avoiding eye contact, in reality they are hiding their heart. They are closing their heart to you.
Of course the same principle is true when we consider our relationship with God. We need to make eye contact with the LORD. That’s why there is something truly intimate about this psalm. It’s all about making eye contact with God. It’s about opening your heart to the LORD and exposing what is deep inside you. You are showing when you lift your eyes to Him that you are ready to receive instruction. Yes, and correction too, if that is needed.
So the psalmist speaks these words: I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. He takes the position and the posture of a slave—a humble servant. He is looking for mercy—hoping for grace and blessing from the hand of His master.
This is perhaps the most intimate of the Songs of Ascent. Having come a great distance, the pilgrim is now in the LORD’s house. He has drawn nigh in the fullest sense. The pilgrim lifts his eyes—not to an idol, but to the LORD—the One who fills all, formed all, and transcends all. With eyes wide open he exposes his heart to God. He waits expectantly for the LORD’s instruction.
Prayer at its best is modelled for us in this psalm. It’s prayer with our eyes wide open to God. We are looking to Him for mercy, comfort, strength and direction.
Response: Father God, I come before you now. I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. Be merciful to me. Speak to me. Correct me, if I need correction. Give me direction. I am ready to receive instruction from you. I am your servant. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you drawing nigh to God? How do you make eye contact with God?