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Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible - Old Testament

Psalm 123 (Chapter CXXIII Study)

 

Psalms Exposition: Index | Introduction to the book of Psalms | Psalms 1 | Psalms 2 | Psalms 3 | Psalms 4 | Psalms 5 | Psalms 6 | Psalms 7 | Psalms 8 | Psalms 9 | Psalms 10 | Psalms 11 | Psalms 12 | Psalms 13 | Psalms 14 | Psalms 15 | Psalms 16 | Psalms 17 | Psalms 18 | Psalms 19 | Psalms 20 | Psalms 21 | Psalms 22 | Psalms 23 | Psalms 24 | Psalms 25 | Psalms 26 | Psalms 27 | Psalms 28 | Psalms 29 | Psalms 30 | Psalms 31 | Psalms 32 | Psalms 33 | Psalms 34 | Psalms 35 | Psalms 36 | Psalms 37 | Psalms 38 | Psalms 39 | Psalms 40 | Psalms 41 | Psalms 42 | Psalms 43 | Psalms 44 | Psalms 45 | Psalms 46 | Psalms 47 | Psalms 48 | Psalms 49 | Psalms 50 | Psalms 51 | Psalms 52 | Psalms 53 | Psalms 54 | Psalms 55 | Psalms 56 | Psalms 57 | Psalms 58 | Psalms 59 | Psalms 60 | Psalms 61 | Psalms 62 | Psalms 63 | Psalms 64 | Psalms 65 | Psalms 66 | Psalms 67 | Psalms 68 | Psalms 69 | Psalms 70 | Psalms 71 | Psalms 72 | Psalms 73 | Psalms 74 | Psalms 75 | Psalms 76 | Psalms 77 | Psalms 78 | Psalms 79 | Psalms 80 | Psalms 81 | Psalms 82 | Psalms 83 | Psalms 84 | Psalms 85 | Psalms 86 | Psalms 87 | Psalms 88 | Psalms 89 | Psalms 90 | Psalms 91 | Psalms 92 | Psalms 93 | Psalms 94 | Psalms 95 | Psalms 96 | Psalms 97 | Psalms 98 | Psalms 99 | Psalms 100 | Psalms 101 | Psalms 102 | Psalms 103 | Psalms 104 | Psalms 105 | Psalms 106 | Psalms 107 | Psalms 108 | Psalms 109 | Psalms 110 | Psalms 111 | Psalms 112 | Psalms 113 | Psalms 114 | Psalms 115 | Psalms 116 | Psalms 117 | Psalms 118 | Psalms 119 | Psalms 120 | Psalms 121 | Psalms 122 | Psalms 123 | Psalms 124 | Psalms 125 | Psalms 126 | Psalms 127 | Psalms 128 | Psalms 129 | Psalms 130 | Psalms 131 | Psalms 132 | Psalms 133 | Psalms 134 | Psalms 135 | Psalms 136 | Psalms 137 | Psalms 138 | Psalms 139 | Psalms 140 | Psalms 141 | Psalms 142 | Psalms 143 | Psalms 144 | Psalms 145 | Psalms 146 | Psalms 147 | Psalms 148 | Psalms 149 | Psalms 150

Psalms full text: Psalms 1 | Psalms 2 | Psalms 3 | Psalms 4 | Psalms 5 | Psalms 6 | Psalms 7 | Psalms 8 | Psalms 9 | Psalms 10 | Psalms 11 | Psalms 12 | Psalms 13 | Psalms 14 | Psalms 15 | Psalms 16 | Psalms 17 | Psalms 18 | Psalms 19 | Psalms 20 | Psalms 21 | Psalms 22 | Psalms 23 | Psalms 24 | Psalms 25 | Psalms 26 | Psalms 27 | Psalms 28 | Psalms 29 | Psalms 30 | Psalms 31 | Psalms 32 | Psalms 33 | Psalms 34 | Psalms 35 | Psalms 36 | Psalms 37 | Psalms 38 | Psalms 39 | Psalms 40 | Psalms 41 | Psalms 42 | Psalms 43 | Psalms 44 | Psalms 45 | Psalms 46 | Psalms 47 | Psalms 48 | Psalms 49 | Psalms 50 | Psalms 51 | Psalms 52 | Psalms 53 | Psalms 54 | Psalms 55 | Psalms 56 | Psalms 57 | Psalms 58 | Psalms 59 | Psalms 60 | Psalms 61 | Psalms 62 | Psalms 63 | Psalms 64 | Psalms 65 | Psalms 66 | Psalms 67 | Psalms 68 | Psalms 69 | Psalms 70 | Psalms 71 | Psalms 72 | Psalms 73 | Psalms 74 | Psalms 75 | Psalms 76 | Psalms 77 | Psalms 78 | Psalms 79 | Psalms 80 | Psalms 81 | Psalms 82 | Psalms 83 | Psalms 84 | Psalms 85 | Psalms 86 | Psalms 87 | Psalms 88 | Psalms 89 | Psalms 90 | Psalms 91 | Psalms 92 | Psalms 93 | Psalms 94 | Psalms 95 | Psalms 96 | Psalms 97 | Psalms 98 | Psalms 99 | Psalms 100 | Psalms 101 | Psalms 102 | Psalms 103 | Psalms 104 | Psalms 105 | Psalms 106 | Psalms 107 | Psalms 108 | Psalms 109 | Psalms 110 | Psalms 111 | Psalms 112 | Psalms 113 | Psalms 114 | Psalms 115 | Psalms 116 | Psalms 117 | Psalms 118 | Psalms 119 | Psalms 120 | Psalms 121 | Psalms 122 | Psalms 123 | Psalms 124 | Psalms 125 | Psalms 126 | Psalms 127 | Psalms 128 | Psalms 129 | Psalms 130 | Psalms 131 | Psalms 132 | Psalms 133 | Psalms 134 | Psalms 135 | Psalms 136 | Psalms 137 | Psalms 138 | Psalms 139 | Psalms 140 | Psalms 141 | Psalms 142 | Psalms 143 | Psalms 144 | Psalms 145 | Psalms 146 | Psalms 147 | Psalms 148 | Psalms 149 | Psalms 150 | Psalms 151

This psalm was penned at a time then the church of God was brought low and trampled upon; some think it was when the Jews were captives in Babylon, though that was not the only time that they were insulted over by the proud. The psalmist begins as if he spoke for himself only (ver. 1), but presently speaks in the name of the church. Here is, I. Their expectation of mercy from God, ver. 1, 2. II. Their plea for mercy with God,, ver. 3, 4. In singing it we must have our eye up to God's favour with a holy concern, and then an eye down to men's reproach with a holy contempt.

Grateful Acknowledgments.

A song of degrees.

1 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.   2 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.   3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.   4 Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud.

We have here,

I. The solemn profession which God's people make of faith and hope in God, v. 1, 2. Observe, 1. The title here given to God: O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Our Lord Jesus has taught us, in prayer, to have an eye to God as our Father in heaven; not that he is confined there, but there especially he manifests his glory, as the King in his court. Heaven is a place of prospect and a place of power; he that dwells there beholds thence all the calamities of his people and thence can send to save them. Sometimes God seems to have forsaken the earth, and the enemies of God's people ask, Where is now your God? But then they can say with comfort, Our God is in the heavens. O thou that sittest in the heavens (so some), sittest as Judge there; for the Lord has prepared his throne in the heavens, and to that throne injured innocency may appeal. 2. The regard here had to God. The psalmist himself lifted up his eyes to him. The eyes of a good man are ever towards the Lord, Ps. xxv. 15. In every prayer we lift up our soul, the eye of our soul, to God, especially in trouble, which was the case here. The eyes of the people waited on the Lord, v. 2. We find mercy coming towards a people when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, are towards the Lord, Zech. ix. 1. The eyes of the body are heaven-ward. Os homini sublime dedit—To man he gave an erect mien, to teach us which way to direct the eyes of the mind. Our eyes wait on the Lord, the eye of desire and prayer, the begging eye, and the eye of dependence, hope, and expectation, the longing eye. Our eyes must wait upon God as the Lord, and our God, until that he have mercy upon us. We desire mercy from him, we hope he will show us mercy, and we will continue our attendance on him till the mercy come. This is illustrated (v. 2) by a similitude: Our eyes are to God as the eyes of a servant, and handmaid, to the hand of their master and mistress. The eyes of a servant are, (1.) To his master's directing hand, expecting that he will appoint him his work, and cut it out for him, and show him how he must do it. Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (2.) To his supplying hand. Servants look to their master, or their mistress, for their portion of meat in due season, Prov. xxxi. 15. And to God must we look for daily bread, for grace sufficient; from him we must receive it thankfully. (3.) To his assisting hand. If the servant cannot do his work himself, where must he look for help but to his master? And in the strength of the Lord God we must go forth and go on. (4.) To his protecting hand. If the servant meet with opposition in his work, if he be questioned for what he does, if he be wronged and injured, who should bear him out and right him, but his master that set him on work? The people of God, when they are persecuted, may appeal to their Master, We are thine; save us. (5.) To his correcting hand. If the servant has provoked his master to beat him, he does not call for help against his master, but looks at the hand that strikes him, till it shall say, "It is enough; I will not contend for ever." The people of God were now under his rebukes; and whither should they turn but to him that smote them? Isa. ix. 13. To whom should they make supplication but to their Judge? They will not do as Hagar did, who ran away from her mistress when she put some hardships upon her (Gen. xvi. 6), but they submit themselves to and humble themselves under God's mighty hand. (6.) To his rewarding hand. The servant expects his wages, his well-done, from his master. Hypocrites have their eye to the world's hand; thence they have their reward (Matt. vi. 2); but true Christians have their eye to God as their rewarder.

II. The humble address which God's people present to him in their calamitous condition (v. 3, 4), wherein, 1. They sue for mercy, not prescribing to God what he shall do for them, nor pleading any merit of their own why he should do it for them, but, Have mercy upon us, O Lord! have mercy upon us. We find little mercy with men; their tender mercies are cruel; there are cruel mockings. But this is our comfort, that with the Lord there is mercy and we need desire no more to relieve us, and make us easy, than the mercy of God, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. Whatever the troubles of the church are, God's mercy is a sovereign remedy. 2. They set forth their grievances: We are exceedingly filled with contempt. Reproach is the wound, the burden, they complain of. Observe, (1.) Who were reproached: "We, who have our eyes up to thee." Those who are owned of God are often despised and trampled on by the world. Some translate the words which we render, those that are at ease, and the proud, so as to signify the persons that are scorned and contemned. "Our soul is troubled to see how those that are at peace, and the excellent ones, are scorned and despised." The saints are a peaceable people and yet are abused (Ps. xxxv. 20), the excellent ones of the earth and yet undervalued, Lam. iv. 1, 2. (2.) Who did reproach them. Taking the words as we read them, they were the epicures who lived at ease, carnal sensual people, Job xii. 5. The scoffers are such as walk after their own lusts and serve their own bellies, and the proud such as set God himself at defiance and had a high opinion of themselves; they trampled on God's people, thinking they magnified themselves by vilifying them. (3.) To what degree they were reproached: "We are filled, we are surfeited with it. Our soul is exceedingly filled with it." The enemies thought they could never jeer them enough, nor say enough to make them despicable; and they could not but lay it to heart; it was a sword in their bones, Ps. xlii. 10. Note, [1.] Scorning and contempt have been, and are, and are likely to be, the lot of God's people in this world. Ishmael mocked Isaac, which is called persecuting him; and so it is now, Gal. iv. 29. [2.] In reference to the scorn and contempt of men it is matter of comfort that there is mercy with God, mercy to our good names when they are barbarously used. Hear, O our God! for we are despised.

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Other commentaries and interpretations on the Book of Psalms:
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