Psalm 123:2

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 2. Behold -- for it is worthy of regard among men, and O that the Majesty of heaven would also note it, and speedily send the mercy which our waiting spirits seek. See, O Lord, how we look to thee, and in thy mercy look on us. This Behold has, however, a call to us to observe and consider. Whenever saints of God have waited upon the Lord their example has been worthy of earnest consideration. Sanctification is a miracle of grace; therefore let us behold it. For God to have wrought in men the spirit of service is a great marvel, and as such let all men turn aside and see this great sight. "As the eyes of servants (or slaves) look unto the hand of their masters." They stand at the end of the room with their hands folded watching their lord's movements. Orientals speak less than we do, and prefer to direct their slaves by movements of their hands: hence, the domestic must fix his eyes on his master, or he might miss a sign, and so fail to obey it: even so, the sanctified man lifts his eyes unto God, and endeavours to learn the divine will from every one of the signs which the Lord is pleased to use. Creation, providence, grace; these are all motions of Jehovah's hand, and from each of them a portion of our duty is to be learned; therefore should we carefully study them, to discover the divine will. "And as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress," this second comparison may be used because Eastern women are even more thorough than the men in the training of their servants. It is usually thought that women issue more commands, and are more sensitive of disobedience, than the sterner sex. Among the Roman matrons female slaves had a sorry time of it, and no doubt it was the same among the generality of Eastern ladies. "Even so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God." Believers desire to be attentive to each and all of the directions of the Lord; even those which concern apparently little things are not little to us, for we know that even for idle words we shall be called to account, and we are anxious to give in that account with joy, and not with grief. True saints, like obedient servants, look to the Lord their God reverentially: they have a holy awe and inward fear of the great and glorious One. They watch, obediently, doing his commandments, guided by his eye. Their constant gaze is fixed attentively on all that comes from the Most High; they give earnest heed, and fear lest they should let anything slip through inadvertence or drowsiness. They look continuously, for there never is a time when they are off duty; at all times they delight to serve in all things: Upon the Lord they fix their eyes expectantly, looking for supply, succour, and safety from his hands, waiting that he may have mercy upon them. To him they look singly, they have no other confidence, and they learn to look submissively, waiting patiently for the Lord, seeking both in activity and suffering to glorify his name. When they are smitten with the rod they turn their eyes imploringly to the hand which chastens, hoping that mercy will soon abate the rigour of the affliction. There is much more in the figure than we can display in this brief comment; perhaps it will be most profitable to suggest the question. -- Are we thus trained to service? Though we are sons, have we learned the full obedience of servants? Have we surrendered self, and bowed our will before the heavenly Majesty? Do we desire in all things to be at the Lord's disposal? If so, happy are we. Though we are made joint heirs with Christ, yet for the present we differ little from servants, and may be well content to take them for our model.

Observe the covenant name, "Jehovah our God": it is sweet to wait upon a covenant God. Because of that covenant he will show mercy to us; but we may have to wait for it. "Until that he have mercy upon us:". God hath his time and season, and we must wait until it cometh. For the trial of our faith our blessed Lord may for awhile delay, but in the end the vision will be fulfilled. Mercy is that which we need, that which we look for, that which our Lord will manifest to us. Even those who look to the Lord, with that holy look which is here described, still need mercy, and as they cannot claim it by right they wait for it till sovereign grace chooses to vouchsafe it. Blessed are those servants whom their Master shall find so doing. Waiting upon the Lord is a posture suitable both for earth and heaven: it is, indeed, in every place the right and fitting condition for a servant of the Lord. Nor may we leave the posture so long as we are by grace dwellers in the realm of mercy. It is a great mercy to be enabled to wait for mercy, so much the more spirit, when anyone causelessly did them violence. Nor can it be doubted that God, when he sees us placing an exclusive dependence upon his protection, and renouncing all confidence in our own resources, will, as our defender, encounter and shield us from all the molestation that shall be offered to us. --John Calvin.

Verse 2. -- Hand. With the hand we demand, we promise, we call, dismiss, threaten, entreat, supplicate, deny, refuse, interrogate, admire, reckon, confess, repent; express fear, express shame, express doubt; we instruct, command, unite, encourage, swear, testify, accuse, condemn, acquit, insult, despise, defy, disdain, flatter, applaud, bless, abase, ridicule, reconcile, recommend, exalt, regale, gladden, complain, afflict, discomfort, discourage, astonish; exclaim, indicate silence, and what not? with a variety and a multiplication that keep pace with the tongue. --Michael de Montaigne, 1533-1592.

Verse 2. -- Masters. It is said of Mr. George Herbert, that divine poet, that, to satisfy his independency upon all others, and to quicken his diligence in God's service, he used in his ordinary speech, when he made mention of the blessed name of Jesus, to add, "my Master." And, without any doubt, if men were unfeignedly of his mind, their respects would be more to Christ's command, to Christ's will, to Christ's pleasure. --From Spencer's "Things New and Old".

Verse 2. -- Our eyes wait. Here the Psalmist uses another word: it is the eye waiting. What is the reason of the second word? Now he leaves the similitude in the first line; for in the first line it is thus, -- "As the eyes of servants look, and the eyes of a maiden look"; here it is the eye waits. There is good reason: to wait is more than to look: to wait is to look constantly, with patience and submission, by subjecting our affections and wills and desires to God's will; that is to wait, David in the second part, in the second line, gives a better word, he betters his copy. There is the duty of a Christian, to better his example; the eyes of servants look, David's eyes shall wait: "So our eyes wait". It is true, indeed this word is not in the original, therefore you may observe it is in a small letter in your Bibles, to note that it is a word of necessity, added for the supply of the sense, because the Holy Ghost left it not imperfect, but more perfect, that lie put not in the verb; because it is left to every man's heart to supply a verb to his own comfort, and a better he cannot than this. And that this word must be added appears by the next words: "until that he have mercy upon us". To look till he have mercy on us is to wait; so there is good reason why this word is added. If we look to the thing begged -- "mercy" -- it is so precious that we may wait for it. It was "servants" that he mentioned, and it is their duty to wait upon their masters; they wait upon their trenchers at meat; they wait when they go to bed and when they rise; they wait in every place. Therefore, because he had mentioned the first word, he takes the proper duty; there is nothing more proper to servants than waiting, and if we are the servants of God we must wait. There is good reason in that respect, because it is a word so significant, therefore the Spirit of God varies it; he keeps not exactly to the line, "So do our eyes look," but he puts it, "So do our eyes wait". --Richard Holdsworth.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 2. -- ( Psalms 121:4 with this verse.) Two beholds.

  1. God's watchful eye over us.
  2. The saint's watchful eye upon God.

Verse 2. -- "Our eyes wait upon the Lord our God."

  1. What it is to wait with the eye.
  2. What peculiar aspect of the Lord suggests such waiting: "Jehovah our God." The covenant God is the trusted God.
  3. What comes of such waiting -- "mercy."

Verse 2. -- The guiding hand.

  1. A beckoning hand -- to go near.
  2. A directing hand -- to go here and there.
  3. A quiescent hand -- to remain where we are.

--G.R.

Verse 2. -- Homely metaphors, or what may be learned from maids and their mistresses.