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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 [ g


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 123:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

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