Psalm 123 – A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to you,
to you who sit enthroned in heaven.
2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God,
till he shows us his mercy.
3 Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us,
for we have endured no end of contempt.
4 We have endured no end
of ridicule from the arrogant,
of contempt from the proud.
We are still in the Psalms of Ascents, which were sung by the pilgrims as they climbed towards Jerusalem. While religious freedoms were still enjoyed by the Jewish people, politically and economically they were tightly controlled and oppressed by the occupying Romans. Prior to that, it was the Greeks; the Persians; the Babylonians; the Assyrians; the Philistines; the Canaanites; the Egyptians; the Jewish people had a history of reasons to complain to God that they have “endured no end of ridicule from the arrogant, of contempt from the proud.”
The puzzling Verse 2 is better expressed in this translation: “Consider this: as the eyes of a servant focus on what his master provides, and as the eyes of a female servant focus on what her mistress provides, so our eyes focus on the Lord our God, until he has mercy on us.”
O God, we pray for all those in our world
who are suffering from injustice:
because of their race, color, or religion;
for those imprisoned
for working for the relief of oppression;
for those who are hounded
for speaking the inconvenient truth;
for those tempted to violence
as a cry against overwhelming hardship;
for those deprived of reasonable health and education;
for those suffering from hunger and famine;
for those too weak to help themselves
and who have no one else to help them;
for the unemployed who cry out
for work but do not find it.
We pray for anyone of our acquaintance
who is personally affected by injustice.
Forgive us, Lord, if we unwittingly share in the conditions
or in a system that perpetuates injustice.
Show us how we can serve your children
and make your love practical by meeting their needs
ahead of our own.
(prayer attributed to Mother Teresa of Calcutta)