Warren W. Wiersbe, a well-known Bible scholar, and the author of over 160 books and Bible commentaries shared this motto from one radio listener sent him several years ago.
“Look at others and be distressed. Look at yourself, and be depressed. Look to God, and you’ll be blessed.”
“This may not be a piece of literature,” Wiersbe opined, “but it certainly contains great practical theology.”
While that quote may be a slight over-simplification since we do receive support from fellow Christians and can find reasons to be encouraged by our good choices and spiritual growth, it’s true that we too often look to human solutions instead of divine guidance.
Our passage today in Psalm 123 reminds us to set our sights heavenly. To look the Lord for direction. And to see beyond our personal problems and our current circumstances.
This Psalm was written at a time when God’s people were in a dire condition They were being persecuted. They were treated with scorn and contempt. They had been insulted and abused. They were suffering and feeling the misery of their tormentors.
According to Spurgeon, some conjectured this Psalm could have been written in the days of Nehemiah, or under the persecutions of Antiochus. However, he suggests there is no proof of this. He suggests there are many occasions during Israel’s history that would describe the abject emotions of God’s people.
The ability to see beyond the circumstances of discouragement, despair, and utter hopelessness is universal at some point in every age.
This short Psalm reminds me of a quote from J. Oswald Sanders in his fine book, Spiritual Leadership. “Eyes that look are common; eyes that see are rare.”
What do you see when obstacles occur, problems abound, and suffering is severe? This Psalms offers three insights into how spiritual eyes can see through the fog of this world’s troubles.
#1 Eyes that See by Faith God’s Glory.
“To you, I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!”
Of course, we can’t literally see the throne of God, but through the eye of faith, we can see Him. As our eyes are opened both to the book of revelation and the book of nature, we see our Creator. We see His majesty. His power. His protection. His providential care. His precious promises. His plan for our pardon from sins. His purpose for our lives. And the paradise home He has prepared.
Lift up your eyes!
#2 Eyes that see with gratitude God’s blessings.
Most of those reading these words are surrounded by innumerable physical and material blessings. Our prosperity provides many creature comforts. And offers opportunities and choices beyond the wildest imagination of those in other ages and even today in improvised third-world countries.
Our greatest blessings, however, are spiritual. Forgiveness of sins. Peace with God. Communion with our Creator through prayer. Fellowship with folks who share the same values. Divine revelation to guide us, encourage us, and offer help and hope.
The Psalmist expressed it this way:
As the eyes of servants
look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maidservant
to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Lift up your eyes!
#3 Eyes that see with hope God’s Mercy.
Some believe this Psalm was written following Babylon’s captivity when the people were returning to their homeland. They were trying to rebuild the temple Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed. Restore the law. Reconstruct the walls. And revitalize the nation.
The plea of the people was simple and direct.
“Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us!”
Israel, however, didn’t deserve God’s goodness or graciousness. Their repeated rejection of His will and Word had resulted in their captivity. But, now through God’s mercy, there is hope.
Regardless of where we are in life, of whatever problem we’re facing, or persecution we’re enduring, or plight we are suffering, there is help and hope. Because our God is gracious, merciful, and full of compassion.
Lift up your eyes!
–Ken Weliever, The Pracherman