Psalm 123 hits us right where we live. It is a weary pilgrim seeking mercy. He is sure of two things: he has been ground down by those who oppose him and only God can meet his needs.
Let’s start with the second truth. Some people might view this to be a bad thing if you are unable to be helped by anyone other than the Almighty. But is that really the case? Think of all the time and energy wasted by people looking for what only God can provide in their careers, relationships, or possessions. It seems that the psalmist’s assessment of his situation puts him ahead rather than behind.
The other truth is he’s worn out by those who oppose him. He’s put himself out there for God and suffered for it. He wasn’t the first and he wouldn’t be the last, but he’s feeling the pain of rejection. James “Quick” Tillis wanted to be a heavyweight boxer. He moved from Tulsa to Chicago to pursue a career in the sport. Not lacking for confidence, when his bus dropped him off in front of the Sears Tower, he put down his luggage, looked up at the tower and said, “I’m going to conquer Chicago!” When he looked down, his luggage was gone.
We need mercy!
It is mentioned three times in this short psalm. Mercy is relief, release, and even refuge. It originates with the One who sits “enthroned in heaven” (v. 1). As good masters (there was such a thing) protected their servants, the psalmist sought God’s protection.
As the pilgrims drew near Jerusalem, they lifted their eyes and emptied their hearts. They found in God the mercy they looked for and needed.
And so will we.