Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud. —Psalm 123:2-4, KJV
Have you ever asked God for mercy? Have you ever come to that point where you have realized that God doesn’t owe you a favor? He doesn’t owe you an explanation; rather, what you need is mercy.
One definition of mercy is “refraining from inflicting punishment or pain on an offender or enemy who is in one’s power.” Here is a person who has the right to punish and also the power to do so. He has the right to punish, because the offender deserves justice and deserves to be punished. Mercy occurs when the person who could punish shows leniency instead. In short, God’s mercy is not getting what we, as sinners, deserve.
The writer of this psalm (we don’t know who he was) understood that God can give or withhold mercy. It was written by one who understood God and who also understood himself. He had come to terms with what he was like. He realized he had no right to snap his fingers and say, “God, You have to do this!” He knew that God doesn’t have to do anything. Therefore he said, “We will just look to God. We will wait for Him. As the eyes of slaves look to the hands of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hands of the mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord.”
Have you ever talked to God like that? If you haven’t, you are not a Christian. A Christian is a person who has come to realize that he has no bargaining power. He sees himself as having sinned against God, offended His holiness, broken His law, and shown contempt for His Word. When a person realizes that he is a sinner, all he can do is ask for mercy.
Excerpted from Higher Ground (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1995).