Do you ever talk to yourself while engaging in a task and find that your dog is watching you closely, seemingly following every word? We have a Border Collie and often when I’m spending time with the Lord at the end of the day – reading or praying – he will come into the bedroom and either sit on the floor or jump on the bed, and just stares at me. But at my slightest movement his ears prick up and immediately he focuses intently on what my next move might be. He doesn’t want to miss a possible cue as if he is trying to figure out what I might want from him. Or simply he’s just curious about what the heck I am doing!
This scene always draws my mind back to Psalm 123.1-2 ESV
“To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
As the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
Till he has mercy upon us”
Psalm 123 is deeply profound in its meaning. Here the Psalmist paints a picture to help us understand in illustrating our relationship to God: we are servants.
The language suggests that the psalmist had already lifted up his eyes, was presently lifting them, and would continue to lift them. While looking up is the first thing we should do before the Lord, it is sometimes the last thing we do. And sometimes the upward look is the only one left.
The lifting up the eyes implies faith and confident persuasion that God is ready and willing to help us. The very lifting up of our eyes towards heaven is an expression of our inward trust.
Servants look to their Masters (v2)
The word “Behold is meant to attract the readers’ attention. “Behold,” placed at the beginning of the verse, suggests there is, something worth noting, worth examining and considering—and worth remembering and carrying away!
Commentators tell us that, in the world of the Old Testament, a slave would become so obedient and devoted as to notice the most subtle signs of his master, or of her mistress. The slightest movement of the little finger might summon the servant to come forward; a raised eyebrow might signal alarm; a hushed clearing of the throat might indicate that it was time for the servant to leave the room.
The psalmist’s dependence upon God was like that of a servant to his master. In this illustration, the servant looked to the hand of his master for the slightest gesture. The psalmist looked to God with an attitude of expectation. He knew that his destiny was in the hand of God.
To look to the hand of the Master is the posture of a servant; a true servant has no opportunity to do life on his/her own; they are completely dependent on the hand of their master for everything in life. Servants watch their masters for indicators of how they, too, are to live. A good servant sees the habits and lifestyle of his master and seeks to incorporate those qualities into his own life. Jesus both taught and demonstrated how his followers, his servants, were to live. With that same intensity, devotion, and steadfastness the Psalmist looks to God. This should be our posture as we approach God.
To wait on God is to stare at his hand.
We stare at his hand for two primary reasons: to serve and minister. I still remember the day clearly when the Lord said to me: “All I ask is that you be a servant to what I (“God) am doing.” So I have learnt to wait until He moves his mighty hand on my behalf: waiting on God is attentively gazing upon Him with undistracted focus until he has mercy on me. And until he acts, I just wait on Him and love Him. I would say it this way: While waiting for God I seek the intimacy of His face. While waiting on God I seek the power of his hand. It’s not either/or; it’s both/and.
Waiting on God has for me became an uncomplicated spiritual discipline. It took a lot of time and practice: Just sitting in his presence and gazing. I still practice it daily. But, it can be agonising to those who have become accustomed to other stimuli or lack the attention span to wait on God. He so graciously knows that, so in His kindness He will help us learn how to wait on him. Once we press in to Him, we open up to the joys and adventures of waiting on God.
The verse ends with a remarkable phrase – ’till He shows us his mercy’. This is a humble but confident and persistent belief that God is a good God who loves to show mercy. This is how long the Psalmist will focus his attention towards the Lord. He does not demand an immediate answer, but will persevere patiently until the Lord extends His mercy.
As His servant, just as my dog longs to please me, I long to please God. As I wait for the release of His power I gaze with captivated attention upon him until He moves.