Praying for Protection on the Journey – Psalm 123
“To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!”Psalm 123:1
Take a moment and read Psalm 123.
This journey requires that we change our perspective, to focus not on the things of this world but to have a vertical view of life. “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!” But breaking the chains that hold us to a horizontal view of life, to cease looking at the things around us which draw our attention away from God, is a difficult process. David Craig, in his master’s thesis for Bakke Graduate University, said, “Why are so many Christians not living in a Christ-like manner? The primary problem is Christians have become more influenced by a secular worldview than by a worldview that is Theocentric. Secularism has made a literal beeline to the heart of the Christian faith. Our culture has a greater impact on Christians than does Christ. Man-centered thinking has infiltrated the heart and soul of the Church and Christians are more concerned about pleasing men than God.”
This is not a new problem. The Old Testament is rife with stories of kings, priests, and the people of God who abandon God and seek to be like the nations of the world. That is why they asked Samuel for a king! (1 Samuel 8:19-20). This was a continuing problem among the exiles in Babylon. The Psalmists of the Songs of Ascent are all calling upon the people of God to turn from their earthly preoccupations and “lift up your eyes”. It continues to be a problem for God’s people today. But what the Psalmist is calling for in Psalm 123 is for the people of God to look up, to look to the Lord in Whom we have every provision for our lives. For it is in Christ that we have life. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Karl Barth, the early 20th century theologian said, “There exists what we may call a vertical view of true service of God or the true Christian life. When we understand the Christian life in the light of its origin and object, it is simply and without reservation the life of Jesus Christ Himself, so far as men through God’s Holy Spirit are united with Him in faith, so far does His life become theirs and their life His.”
How do we do this as we set out on this pilgrimage to the New Jerusalem? The Psalmist says that we are to “look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy upon us” (vs. 2). We pray earnestly. We keep our eyes fixed upon Him, not on the things of this world. It takes effort, discipline, and patience. We persevere “until He has mercy upon us.” It takes the Grace of God. So the Psalmist reminds us to look to God “as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master…so our eyes look to the Lord…”
We will get distracted. We will look away from time to time. It is a long journey through some difficult terrain, but whenever we find we have strayed, when our attention has wandered, we can turn back. For as the Chronicler declares, “For if you return to the Lord, your brethren and your children will find compassion with their captors, and return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him” (2 Chronicles 30:9).