Psalm 123 is one of several “Songs of Ascents” that pilgrims would pray as they journeyed to Jerusalem. The psalm, while short in length, carries rich imagery and words that proclaim the fullness of God’s nature.
The psalmist looks to God and describes God as a ruler, master, and mistress. Many of us address God as “mighty king” or “all powerful” or “ruler of heaven and earth.” We desire God’s control over all things.
But few of us address God as “my master,” let alone “my mistress.” These labels force us out of our comfort zone where we choose to remain until we seek to understand what the psalmist may have imagined.
At the time the psalmist penned these words, servants lived in the home of their master, who provided a job, a bed, food, and even community. Servants and maids received their livelihood from their master and mistress. Perhaps you can imagine television parallels like Alice, the beloved maid on The Brady Bunch, or Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson on Downton Abbey—characters who serve as an extension of the family and do everything to please and care for their employers.
The psalmist invites us to know and serve God in a similar way. God is one who rules all things, but God is also one on whom we can depend. God sits enthroned above, but is also right here in our midst. God desires to care for us, but we are also called to care for God’s needs until God shows mercy.
How are we being invited to tend to God’s needs this day? Where are we being led? How could we care for God as though mercy depended on it?
Thank you for caring for us, God, and enabling us to care for you. Amen.
In the book of Judges, we find a woman confidently leading a patriarchal nation as though it were an everyday occurrence. The psalm reminds us that the need for mercy reduces each and every one to a posture of outstretched hands and upturned eyes. To sing such a song on the way to worship, as was traditionally done, is to prepare the mind and heart for the possibility of whatever blessing may be given upon arrival. In First Thessalonians we overhear an apostle’s exhortation to live openly and expectantly regarding God’s future revelation—alert to the coming of Christ but also aware that Christ may come in sudden and unanticipated ways. Finally, a parable in Matthew runs counter to our instincts to safeguard that which we treasure, challenging us to consider the ways in which faithfulness involves a strange coupling of risk and reward.
• Read Judges 4:1-7. Reread the last paragraph of Monday’s meditation and reflect on the writer’s two questions.
• Read Psalm 123. How do you address God? Is God more “enthroned above” for you, or “right here in [your] midst”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. The writer states, “We stay awake each time we practice acts of love and mercy.” When have you felt divinely awakened by an act of love?
• Read Matthew 25:14-30. Identify ways you take risks in your life presently. Do any of these risks relate to living out your faith?
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