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Psalm 123: Waiting on God

 May 7, 2020

Some days are filled with wonder over all that God has done, others not so much. Perhaps you are feeling discouraged as the weeks of sheltering in place and being confronted by the coronavirus everywhere you go creep into months. Perhaps you feel stuck in a state of limbo, getting nowhere fast, waiting for good news, waiting for God, much like the writer of Psalm 123.

To discourage, according to Webster, is to deprive of courage or confidence, to hinder by disfavoring, to attempt to dissuade. Some days it takes courage just to get up and face the challenges present. It takes courage to stay the course and wait for God to come through.

Psalm 123

Psalm 123 is a short lament, only four verses. It falls into Walter Brueggeman’s category of psalms of disorientation. In contrast to the preceding psalm, 122, which was filled with joy, the writer is in distress and waiting for God to respond, like a servant waiting for their master. “Like servants, alert to their master’s commands, like a maiden attending her lady, we’re watching and waiting, holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy.” (2, The Message)

Unlike so many other laments, there are no words of encouragement or confident expectation that God will answer their plea. They are lowly servants with no claim upon their master. Servants don’t have a lot of power. They are subject to the whims of their owners. Not a good place to be, unless of course your owner is our loving God.

The writer goes on to say they have been kicked down and held in contempt, “We’ve been kicked around long enough, kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men, kicked when we’re down by arrogant brutes,” (3b-4) as translated by Eugene Peterson in The Message. Or “Too long our soul has been sated with the scorn of those who are at ease, the contempt of the proud,” in the Revised Standard Version. Psalm 123 ends on that note. They are waiting for God.

Waiting for an End to the Pandemic

As we deal with all of the changes that have been imposed on us because of the coronavirus, we may feel discouraged, frustrated and angry. Many are taking their anger out on those in leadership positions. Like the writer of Psalm 123, they cry out against those in power who may seem to be kicking them while they are down. They cry out against those who seek to use this pandemic to further their own interests rather than showing compassion. Rather than feel helpless before circumstances beyond our control, we lash out or are discouraged. We are definitely enduring a time of disorientation.

It’s hard to wait, especially if you have been suffering for a long time; hard to wait in the darkness of anger and discouragement, trusting that God will eventually respond. Yet that is what Psalm 123 calls for. Sometimes it is not ours to act. Sometimes all we can do is wait, like the servants in this psalm, putting our faith in the One we are waiting for and on.

Is there something you are waiting for? Are you discouraged? Does it seem like God isn’t present? I would love to hear from you.


This post is part of a series of blog posts on the Psalms. Sign up to follow this blog and and receive a free copy of  Still Dancingthe second book in my Dancing through Life Series.      click here to sign up

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