Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” Ps 123:2
The psalms of degrees are songs of ascending or songs of steps. They were inspired, written, and preserved to be sung as the people of God prepared to enter the place of worship. Being prepared for worship makes what happens in worship more meaningful and effectual. It also helps us face life on the other side of worship.
From time to time fulfilling the will of God requires us to wait. In fact, more often than not, the best things that God does in our life require patience. If we learn to wait upon God in worship, we are better able to wait upon the will of God in our life.
Another aspect of waiting is that of eager service. I modify service with the word eager because I believe there are many aspects about God’s will that are not revealed until one learns to be attentive to the Lord.
Two important things to focus upon as we prepare to enter the place of worship and into a time of communion with God are that we must be patient and attentive. When we learn patience and eager service in worship it is much easier to practice the same in life.
“Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.” Ps 123:1
Psalm 121 begins with a call to lift up the eyes to the place of God’s abode. Psalm 123 points beyond where God abides and directs attention to the Lord Himself. As we prepare for worship our attention must pass from the things of this world and rest first on the place of worship and then on the God we meet there.
He is not only the God of the holy mountain, but the God Who dwells in the heavens. He has chosen to meet with us in a special way wherever God’s people congregate, yet His presence fills the universe. Heaven is His throne and earth His footstool. He created all that we see and that which we cannot see.
And yet the God of all creation is known by His people. He chooses to meet with us as we call upon His name. God is not some cosmic question mark against which vain and empty prayers are hurled. God is a loving, caring Father. He desires to be known and to dwell within us. And He loves to tabernacle in the midst of the saints as they worship Him.
We do not worship an “it”, we worship a “Him.” It is to Him that I lift up my eyes when I am distressed. It is He that I call upon when I am in need. It is He that I rejoice in when He gives me victory. It is He that I go up to meet at the house of the Lord. That is why I am glad when they say unto me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psa 122:1).
We are saved by a person - not a doctrine. It is by virtue of His love for you and the blood that He shed that you are saved. Yes, salvation is received by obeying the true gospel, but it is the Lord Jesus Christ who makes salvation available. The very method by which Grace is imparted rests firmly upon the love of God for you. A person, not a doctrine saves you! We need to lift up our eyes to Him and place our confidence in Him. He is the God of the Temple; He is the God behind the doctrine. The house of God is great because of the God that dwells there. The gospel message is powerful because of the God of the message.
When Jesus walked the earth, those who placed extreme value upon the temple confronted him. The Pharisees disputed with Jesus over and over about customs having to do with the temple, the Sabbath, and dietary issues. And yet God created these ceremonial laws as a way for man to commune with Him. While arguing with Jesus about the temple, they failed to recognize that He was indeed the God of the temple. He said to them:
“But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.” Matt 12:6
Ultimately it was a false accusation about the temple that these blind leaders used to convict Jesus of blasphemy. They said He blasphemed the temple. Consider that, the God of the temple was accused of blaspheming His temple.
What are you saying? I am saying that some folks have more confidence in their prayer than they do in the God all prayer must be offered to. Some folks have more confidence in their worship than they have in the God Who meets us when we worship in spirit and in truth. Some folks have more confidence in their doctrine than they do in the God who chooses to save us through true doctrine. We must lift up our eyes to Him!
Wait Upon the Lord
“Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” Ps 123:2
Verse two conveys the twin concepts of eager service and patience. In worship, God must have our complete attention. This is not about showing our own piety or spirituality.
A) Serving in Worship
Worship is not something that is blindly hurled in the direction of an unknown entity somewhere up there. As we worship the Lord, our spiritual eyes must be employed in watching the hand of the Lord.
In the orient, orders were seldom given to the servants in words but instead by simple motions and symbols. The servant was so attentive and attuned to his lord that words were seldom needed. It is said that often a guest would not even be able to recognize that the master had given an order to the servants, so attuned were the servants to their lord.
Can we not wait upon our God with our eyes? Must He speak every command explicitly? Must He speak the command over and over and over and over again? It is no mistake the way verse two is written. The servant or the maiden would train their eyes to watch the hand of their master or mistress.
How do we learn to recognize the desires of our God? In worship we learn His nature. In worship we learn His ways and how we works. In worship we tune our spiritual eyes to recognize His signals.
If God must part the heavens and speak to you in an audible voice, you have not learned to watch His hand. If God must call you by your full name and then use a special pass code for security purposes to get through to you, you have not learned to wait in worship. Will you require God to make the earth wet with dew while your fleece remains dry so that you will know it is God. Must God perform some hocus-pocus in order to prove to you what He desires in your life? What about those who are not attentive enough to watch God’s hand but need a “sign” in order to know His will? What will be next, will you start reading tealeaves to see if God wants you to live holy?
B) Patience in Worship
The other concept of verse two is that of patience. Being ready and eager to serve requires always being ready. Notice the word “until” in verse two.
“…so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” Ps 123:2
We learn patience in the presence of God that we might not be tempted to act rashly in the presence of evil. God will deliver us … after He accomplishes whatever He desires through our trial. God has a way of using those things the enemy means for our ill, to benefit us as well as His work.
Are you willing to tarry in the presence of God? Have you ever noticed that Jesus told the disciples to tarry in the city of Jerusalem until? The Lord knew that the day the Spirit would be poured out would be on the Day of Pentecost. Why didn’t Jesus just tell the disciples to be in Jerusalem in ten days? It was because there was something to be accomplished in them by learning to wait upon God.
Do you realize that if God told us precisely when certain things would happen in our lives we would not learn patience? Nope. We would busy ourselves doing something else until that time came. And a good percentage of us wouldn’t be at the right place when the appointed time came! If you don’t believe me, just watch how many come into the church house after the service has begun on any given Sunday.
“Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.” Ps 123:3-4
This is a plea for deliverance from the ungodly. “Those that are at ease” are the careless and irreligious. “The proud” further defines those whom we must be delivered from. This plea is more for internal feelings than the oppression that is being heaped upon the righteous externally. It is a prayer for deliverance from the contempt the righteous might become filled with from exposure to the ungodly.
“Our soul is exceeding filled with the scorning…”
One may suffer ridicule and contempt, but the danger is for those hateful attitudes to poison the righteous. Constant exposure to negative thoughts has a tendency to turn a happy person into a Sad Sack caricature.
Scorn, ridicule, and contempt are like the waves of the sea. Every ship must navigate the waves, but the waves must not consume the ship. The waves may beat on the ship, so long as they don’t seep into the ship. Just as the disciples on the stormy sea, the storms of life have a tendency to drive the waves into the ship.
“And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.” Mark 4:37
How do you bail all of that scorn and contempt out of your soul? You are going to need the Lord on deck with you. Learning to wait upon God in worship will prepare you to endure the storms of life.
Place your confidence in Him. He will deliver you. He will cleanse your soul of all the scorn and contempt that the enemy heaps upon you.
In worship we learn to serve Him with eagerness and be patiently attentive. This prepares us to receive deliverance and cleansing in our soul.
© 2009 Nevin Bass. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced for the purpose of resale without written permission.