Beckett: Have Mercy Upon Us

Psalm 123 (Hebrew translation)
To You I lift up my eyes, O You who inhabits the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their lord, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her lady, so our eyes look to Yahweh our God until He has favour upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O Yahweh, have a mercy upon us, for we have h ad more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough of the derision of those who are secure, of the contempt of the proud.

A short and simple psalm, using evocative imagery of looking toward the heavens where God sits enthroned as a servant looks up to their master out of reverence and for mercy. The psalmist assumes the position of humiliation as he looks upward to God and pleads for His mercy upon not only his situation alone, but also those whom he is with.

“Have mercy on us, O Yahweh.” Who is “us”? We cannot know, for the text does not state who this collective people are and neither does the wider context provide any helpful hints. However, it is proper to assume this anonymous psalter is an Israelite praying on behalf of himself and his people. They’ve suffered enough of the derision of the evil who are secure in their ways and enough of the contempt of the proud.

This position of humiliation is one God’s people are always to take as they make their requests to God. This is why we bow our heads, close our eyes, and fold our hands as we pray, because this action is placing oneself into a state of humiliation as one yields to the gracious will of God.

In the continued confession of their sins, the people of Israel serve as yet another good example of this. As they recall their own sins and the sins of their fathers, they look up to God and rely on His mercy, “And in the time of their suffering they cried out to You and You heard them from heaven, and according to Your great mercies You gave them saviours who saved them from the hand of their enemies” (Nehemiah 9:27). They are recalling the time of the Judges.

The people of Israel turned from God time and time again, which the Israelites here admit and repent, and say, “Yet when they turned and cried to You, You heard from heaven, and many times You delivered them according to Your mercies” (9:28). What we learn from this psalm and this place in Nehemiah, then, is that God’s natural disposition is one of mercy. It is God’s original desire and disposition to be merciful to people, if only they would repent and turn from their former sinful ways.

This psalm is one we can pray daily in our age. Surely, we Christians have had enough of the derision and contempt of the proud among us. I certainly am. The heathen continue to mock us for our faith in Christ and the contempt of the proud continue to hate us (LGBT activists). There is literally a whole month dedicated to the god of Pride (June). Pride dances half naked to fully naked in the streets to boast of their abominable sexuality, frightening little children and indoctrinating them with their abusive dogmas.

We have had enough of this contempt. So then, let us continually look up to the Lord who sits enthroned in the heavens, beseeching for His mercy. Yes, even upon these prideful sinners so they might come to repentance in Christ and be free from their sins.

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