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.
This short psalm is part of the Songs of Ascents (120-134). Reportedly called songs of ascent because they were sung by pilgrims on their way to worship, perhaps to Jerusalem, or ascending Mt. Zion. This particular psalm (song) is part of the daily lection for November 9 in Year A. As is often the case with the lectionary, it finds me where I am! And these songs of ascent have been of particular comfort in these days where “going to worship” means turning on the computer. In four short verses, this psalmist grabs us where we are! We do feel contempt for the proud, especially in this season of a widening gap of ideologies on the tail of what feels like most the contentious election in our lifetime. Contempt easily finds its way into our hearts. Facebook posts by people I know and love and by strangers I am tempted to pick fights with, fill my heart with the emotions that are difficult to own. They seem as hard to flee as the God of Psalm 139! Yet, our feelings are not new or unnatural. The wisdom is not new either.
Focus on God until he has mercy on us. I think this means until we can feel this mercy. I think this means to keep our focus on God until we are utterly convinced of God’s profound love for us, in spite of our brokenness, our bad attitudes, and our propensity towards, to use an old Methodist phrase, “backsliding.” When we are in the space where we can live in God’s mercy, we can love one another, which is the only thing which will transform the world.
Nearly a century ago, in the aftermath of the last global pandemic, Helen Lemmel wrote the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. I invite you to sing this as a prayer to keep you focused today.
1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
2. Through death into life everlasting
He passed, and we follow Him there;
O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
For more than conqu’rors we are!
3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
Believe Him, and all will be well:
Then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell!
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.