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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Psalms 123

Verses 1-4

Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

The Psalmist's looking up to God is like that of servants patiently looking for mercy from their master (Psalms 123:1-2); prayer for mercy, based on the scorning of the foe (Psalms 123:3-4) - namely, Israel's foes afar her return from Babylon-Moab, Ammon, Arabia (Nehemiah 2:19), and especially Samaria, favoured by the ruling world- power, Persia, while Israel, with all her high claims as the people of God, was poor and low (Nehemiah 1:3). The Psalmist is representative of Israel (cf. "I," Psalms 123:1, with "us," Psalms 123:3).

Verse 1. Unto thee lift I up mine eyes (Psalms 121:1 : cf. at this very time, Nehemiah 1:4 ; Nehemiah 2:4 ), O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Being exalted "in the heavens" infinitely above the greatest earthly foes, the God of Israel and of the Church can give her complete salvation, however unable she may feel herself to resist her haughty adversary.

Verse 2. 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 - "unto the hand" which strikes them. Servants, when beaten, have none to look to, except thee by whom they are beaten, in the hope of persuading them to withdraw the punishing hand. The succeeding clause --

Until that he have mercy upon us - supports this interpretation. The "until" implies that He was now withholding His mercy or grace, and that they wait until its return. If their looking was for direction (as servants in the East look fixedly at their masters for their commands, which are often conveyed by gestures of the hand, rather than by the voice), the expression would have been 'until that He give us direction.' The tongue or eye intimates commands; but the hand is used for correction (cf. Isaiah 9:13). The prayer for "mercy" in Psalms 123:3 is that of one under the Lord's chastising hand. Compare Genesis 16:6-9, respecting 'the hand of the mistress.' The term for "mistress" implies a despotic one [ gªbirtaah (H1404)]. The "until" expresses perseverance in prayers (Luke 18:1-7), continuance in hope, and resignation of our will, whereby we refrain from dictating to God at all, but patiently wait the time and way determined before by God (Gejer).

Verse 3. Have mercy upon us, O Lord - or, 'be gracious unto us.'

Verse 4. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease. The Hebrew article before "scorning" is demonstrative, 'with that scorning,' then a comma interposing-`(with the scorning, namely) of those at ease:' for the article does not usually precede a noun in the construct state.

And with the contempt of [lª--literally, belonging to, as their special characteristic] the proud. So the Hebrew text, [which is to be vocalized as: ga'ªyownim]. But the Masoretes read [ gª'eey (H1349) yowniym (H3123)] in opposition to the parallelism, instead of "the proud" in one Hebrew word, 'the proud ones of the oppressors.'

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 123". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-123.html. 1871-8.