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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 123

A.M. 2983. B.C. 1021.

This Psalm was evidently composed, as Bishop Patrick observes, in a time of great distress, when the Jews were extremely afflicted by some haughty and insolent enemies. The bishop thinks it was in the time of Hezekiah, when the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh to besiege Jerusalem. But others judge it more probable it was when the Jews were captives in Babylon. But these were not the only times when they were insulted over by their proud enemies. At whatever time, however, it was written, the purport of it is to express their expectation of, and to plead for, deliverance from troubles, Psalms 123:1-4 .

Verses 1-2

Psalms 123:1-2. Unto thee lift I up mine eyes Though all human help fail us in this sore distress, yet I do not despair of relief from thee; O thou that dwellest in the heavens Whose majesty and power incomparably excel those of all earthly monarchs. Behold, as the eyes of servants, &c. “Behold how not only I, but the rest of thy faithful people wait upon thee, submitting ourselves to this severe punishment, as poor slaves do to the stroke of their offended master or mistress, and resolving to bear it patiently till thou, our Lord, who dost inflict it, wilt be pleased to show thyself our most gracious God, and in much pity toward us remove it.” Bishop Patrick. In justification of this interpretation of the bishop, it may be observed that “masters had a power, not only of commanding, but of severely punishing their servants,” and that therefore this looking to the hand, &c., is thought by some “to denote the servant, under chastisement, turning his eyes, and looking to the hand that strikes, and beseeching and importuning for mercy; an argument of a meek, patient, and reforming disposition.” Others, however, rather think it denotes servants looking to their masters for help and defence against their enemies and oppressors. For servants were unable to defend themselves, and were not allowed to wear defensive weapons, but expected and received protection from their masters in case of injury. Accordingly, this phrase, of having one’s eyes toward others, both in this and the other sacred books, constantly signifies the expectation and desire of help from them. And the phrase of God’s having mercy upon a person, generally signifies his mercifully helping and delivering him.

Verses 3-4

Psalms 123:3-4 . Have mercy upon us, O Lord O be gracious unto us, and in much mercy help and save us; for we are exceedingly filled with contempt Loaded with opprobrious words and injuries. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the contempt of the proud With the scornful and contemptuous carriage of thine and our enemies, who live in great ease and glory, while we, thy people, are overwhelmed with manifold calamities.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 123". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/psalms-123.html. 1857.