Theme: Being Faithful Disciples
In this week’s lessons, we learn what it means to lift our eyes to the Lord, remembering his mercy, and striving to please him in all things.
Scripture: Psalm 123:1-4
Spurgeon writes, “We must use our eyes with resolution, for they will not go upward to the Lord of themselves, but they incline to look downward, or inward, or anywhere but to the Lord.”1
True saints, like obedient servants, look to the Lord their God reverentially: they have a holy awe and inward fear of the great and glorious One. They watch obediently, doing his commandments, guided by his eye. Their constant gaze is fixed attentively on all that comes from the Most high; they give earnest heed, and fear lest they should let anything slip through inadvertence or drowsiness. They look continuously, for there is never a time when they are off duty; at all times they delight to serve in all things. Upon the Lord they fix their eyes expectantly, looking for supply, succor and safety from his hands, waiting that he may have mercy upon them. To him they look singly, they have no other confidence, and they learn to look submissively, waiting patiently for the Lord, seeking both in activity and suffering to glorify his name. When they are smitten with the rod they turn their eyes imploringly to the hand which chastens, hoping that mercy will soon abate the rigor of the affliction.2
Do we look to God like that—reverently, obediently, attentively, continuously, expectantly, singly, submissively, imploringly? Probably not. But it is the proper pattern. If we are to be faithful disciples, we must look to God through prayer and careful Bible study.
None of these psalms gives much detail for helping us fix the time when they were written. But most scholars think of the majority as having been written in the early days after the Jews’ return from exile in Babylon, when the tiny group of people which had come back to Jerusalem with high hopes found themselves scorned by their settled, more comfortable and malicious neighbors. That is certainly the note struck in the second of Psalm 123’s two stanzas. It is why they are looking so hopefully to God.
If this is the true background for the psalm, there is a helpful account of what was going on in Nehemiah 4. This is the point in Nehemiah in which the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem had begun and the leaders of the surrounding people had begun to oppose it.
The easiest way to oppose something you do not like is to ridicule the effort, and this is the first thing these hostile leaders did. Their names were Sanballat and Tobiah. They got the army of Samaria together and made fun of the Jews in what must have a great public forum, saying, “What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?”
Tobiah added, “What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (Neh. 4:2, 3). The reason people ridicule what they oppose, aside from it being so easy, is that it is demoralizing and frequently effective. It is effective because it strikes at the hidden insecurities or weaknesses that almost everybody has.
1Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 3b, Psalms 120-150 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 39.
2Ibid., p. 40.
Why does Spurgeon say we must use our eyes with “resolution”?
What adjectives does Spurgeon use to describe how saints look to God? How would you define each one?
How does the book of Nehemiah possibly shed light on the background of this psalm?
Reflection: What is your natural inclination when it comes to looking to the Lord? Do you turn to him for help first, or do you tend to worry about the circumstances?
Application: How can you better put into practice Spurgeon’s description of how saints are to look to God?
Prayer: Pray that each day you look to God with a steadfast hope and an undivided heart.
Key Point: If we are to be faithful disciples, we must look to God through prayer and careful Bible study.