Keep Singing, Even When The Crowd Is Against You!

Text: Psalm 123

My wife and I just returned from a trip to Pennsylvania, where we spent three days with my ninety-five-year-old mother.  Every time we make the trip we rehearse fond memories and often experience new relationships.  However, some of those “new relationships” are not as affirming as we might expect.  I’m thinking of the hostess who met us at a local restaurant.  She didn’t smile; she didn’t even say “hello.”  Her only words were, “Follow me,” as we were promptly directed to a corner booth.  There was the gas station attendant who seemed indifferent to my question about the location of an air pump.  (I needed to know so that I could inflate a slowly deflating tire on our automobile.)  Don’t misunderstand!  There were lots of friendly people who made us feel welcome.  However, there were some individuals who didn’t really want to engage in conversation (at least that was my “first impression”). Our Pennsylvania journey reminds me a lot about our spiritual journey. 

In your walk with Christ you will have a number of people who encourage you and nurture you in the faith.  But there are other individuals who don’t want to hear about the Lord Jesus. They may even level charges at how foolish you are to believe in the supernatural.  

So how does God want us to respond to the spiritual antagonists who disrupt our faith?

Psalm 123 is a lament psalm.  It is also identified in the superscription as a Song of Ascents.  That means it was one of fifteen songs that Jewish pilgrims sang on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate Israel’s annual feasts.  Some of these “pilgrim songs” were songs of joy and invitation (cf. Psalm 122).  Others were songs asking for God’s protection in the journey to Jerusalem (cf. Psalm 121).  Psalm 123 is a lament regarding people who seem to be spiritual bullies and indifferent to religion of any kind. (cf. PS 123:3-4)  It is also a psalm with two parts: a picture of subservience (vv. 1-2), and a prayer for God to show mercy (vv. 3-4).  But within this song of lament there is a principle that every disciple needs to remember:

When your faith is maligned, ask God for the mercy you need.

Three questions come to mind as I ponder this important truth.
  1. Who are the antagonists in your life?  It could be anyone.  It could be a family member who is hostile to your enthusiasm about spiritual things.  It could be a colleague or even an individual you once considered a friend.  But I am thinking of someone more sinister, namely, the enemy of your soul, the devil.  In Revelation 12:10 he is described as an "accuser."  He interrupts our thoughts with lies, telling us that we are incompetent, insignificant, and of no use to God.  His attacks can be so fierce that we have no other alternative except to CRY OUT TO GOD FOR THE MERCY WE DESPERATELY NEED.
  2. Why must we ask for mercy from God when spiritual bullies attack?  Notice that Psalm 123 actually unveils three important spiritual realities. A) there is the reality of who God is. Verse 1 describes him as the “one who is enthroned in the heavens.”  He is the King, the Emperor of the entire universe.  He rules over everyone and everything! B) there is the reality of who we are.  Notice that in verse 2 there is a picture of a servant and a maidservant. These were individuals in the ancient world who had absolutely no rights, but were at the mercy of their “owners.”  In a similar way, a Christ-follower is a slave of Christ, not an equal! C) there is the reality of our helplessness.  Two times in verse 3 the psalmist cries out for mercy.  Why?  On their way to Jerusalem these pilgrims could not easily defend themselves against the taunts of their spiritual antagonists.  Most of them were unarmed.  So what could they do?  They could ask the King of the Universe to be merciful and do for them what they could not do for themselves.   
  3. What will happen when we cry out for mercy?  The psalmist does not say specifically, but we know that there is confidence in his intercession.  Look at the last phrase in verse 2: “Our eyes look to the Lord our God, TILL he has mercy on us.”  He must have realized what New Testament saints know as well, namely that, “God rewards those who diligently seek him (HEB 11:6).” We don’t know when it will happen, but God WILL extend mercy to his people.
On your life journey through joys and sorrows, you will eventually meet up with a spiritual bully. 

Don’t try to take things into your own hands.  Don’t try to get even! When your faith is maligned, ask God for the merciful help you need! When your faith is maligned, ask God for the merciful help you need. Keep singing this song of lament, even when people seem to be against you.

You may also like...