Psalm 123 - An end to contempt

To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease,
of the contempt of the proud.
Psalm 123 (NRSV)
5th Sunday in Lent
Proper 5, Year B, Sunday between August 7 and August 13
Proper 8, Year B, Sunday between August 14 and August 20
Proper 14, Year B, Sunday between August 21 and August 28

Very often it takes us time to get to our real issue. This tiny four-verse psalm starts by looking repeatedly to the Lord, and then asks three times for mercy. Only then do we confess our problem.

Contempt seems to be one of the spirits of this age. We hear it from, and directed against, our highest elected leaders. We hear it directed against, individuals, groups, nations. We all know people who spout venom seemingly without thinking, often without even knowing the people or things they're maligning.

The psalm says that our our soul has had too much scorn from the rich, the powerful, the proud, the rulers of earthly kingdoms. We know that we only figure into the calculations of the powerful when they wish to manipulate us en masse, to extract our money, to win our support for their interests or convince us their enemies are our enemies. Call that what you want, but it seems like scorn and contempt to me.

But really, have we yet had enough of scorn and contempt?

Have we stopped seeking it out on cable news, talk radio, or with the gossippers in our life? When we look at those nasty people whose acid tongues corrode trust, do we multiply their contempt by returning it? Have we ceased harsh judgments against others, or against ourselves?

We know God is always against oppression, and we know God hears our prayers. Having put the issue on the table, maybe we ought to turn and examine ourselves. And then turn it back to the Lord, looking at God with the attention of a devoted and trusting servant. To you, O Lord, I lift up my eyes, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.

Word art by Paul Bellan-Boyer, using Wordle.


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