Psalm 123: Waiting on God

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Some days are filled with wonder over all that God has done, others not so much. The theme of this week for me seems to be discouragement. Discouragement keeps creeping into my blog posts. I’m caught in a state of limbo, getting nowhere fast, waiting for others, waiting for God, much like the writer of this week’s psalm. Not only that, I seem to be losing ground, going backwards rather than forwards.

To discourage, according to Webster, is to deprive of courage or confidence, to hinder by disfavoring, to attempt to dissuade. Some days it takes courage just to get up and face the challenges present. It takes courage to stay the course and humbly wait for God to come through.

This psalm is a short lament, only four verses. It stands in contrast to the preceding psalm, 122, which was filled with joy. It falls into Walter Brueggeman’s category of psalms of disorientation. The writer is in distress and waiting for God to respond, like a servant waiting for their master. “Like servants, alert to their master’s commands, like a maiden attending her lady, we’re watching and waiting, holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy.” (2, The Message)

Unlike so many other laments, there are no words of encouragement or confident expectation that God will answer their plea. They are lowly, servants with no claim upon their master. Servants don’t have a lot of power. They are subject to the whims of their owners. Not a good place to be, unless of course your owner is our loving God.

The writer goes on to say they have been kicked down and held in contempt, “We’ve been kicked around long enough, kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men, kicked when we’re down by arrogant brutes,” (3b-4) as translated by Eugene Peterson in The Message. Or “Too long our soul has been sated with the scorn of those who are at ease, the contempt of the proud,” in the Revised Standard Version. The psalm ends on that note. They are waiting for God.

These last verses sound like the electorate of today, only they are not content to wait for God. They are like the angry young men of Les Miserables who take to the streets, however they are brandishing votes, not guns. They are an angry electorate who are tired of the status quo and seeking a candidate that speaks for them. These can be words of revolution.

It’s hard to wait, especially if you have been suffering for a long time; hard to wait in the darkness, trusting that God will eventually respond. Yet that is what this psalm calls for. When confronted with unrighteousness, it can be easy to be discouraged. But sometimes it is not ours to act. Sometimes all we can do is wait, like the servants in this psalm, putting our faith in the One we are waiting for and on.

Is there something you are waiting for? Are you discouraged? Does it seem like God isn’t present? I would love to hear from you.

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