The Pilgrim’s Petition for Help: Psalm 123

Have you ever been ridiculed for your faith? What about being mocked or slandered? Christian pilgrims are like salmon swimming upstream against the current of the world’s culture. Each month 322 Christians are killed; 214 churches and their properties destroyed; 722 forms of violence are committed against Christians (i.e. beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages). According to the Pew Research Center, over 75% of the world’s population live in areas with severe religious restrictions. The U.S. Department of State tells us that Christians in more than 60 countries face persecution from their governments or surrounding neighbors because of their faith in Jesus Christ.

What are Christians to do when persecuted for their faith in Christ? The writer of this Psalm reminds us to humble ourselves before the Lord, to look up to Him in prayer as our only source for help and mercy, and to patiently wait as we volunteer our service to Him for His glory and His kingdom.

The posture that pilgrims must demonstrate is humility. This posture shows dependency on God as expressed by the psalmist when he writes: “…as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us.” (Psalm 123: 2b) It does not take much effort to look up. It is the simple movement of your eyes. To be a servant of God is not a position to dread but a place of humility before His presence as his servant.

Next, dependency on God leads us to prayer. It is possible that the writing of this Psalm took place when the post-exilic Jews came back from Babylon to rebuild the Temple of God. Psalm 123:3-4 is a plea to the Lord for grace and endurance. These pilgrims were being scoffed at by those who had taken over the land, sitting back and laughing at the Israelites as they attempted to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. Because of their dependency on God through prayer, the pilgrims endure because they know the Lord is on their side.

For the Christian pilgrim today, the same truth applies. Humility is the posture that leads to prayer to the Lord for help in time of need. While scoffers may taunt you, the Lord will give you grace to endure so you may reach the prize of the upward call of Christ as you press on toward the goal (Philippians 3:14).

“Prayer for the Homesick Soul”

“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.” Psalm 120.1

What is homesickness? It is defined as “a feeling of longing for one’s home during a period of absence from it.” If you recall your own childhood, you might have been homesick once while visiting a relative, friend, or even a camp. Below are a couple of examples of parents who received homesick letters from their children who were at camp. (Spelling reflects the child’s grammar).

“Dear Mom and Dad,
Camp is terrible. I am homesick almost every minnut. I tried evrything, and nothing works. I need to come home rite now! Please, please, please come and get me today!” Love, Chuck

“Dear Mom and Dad,
This camp stinks! The cownsillers are all mean and so are the kids. All I want to do is come home. If you don’t come pick me up, I’m going to run away. I swayr. I hate this place!” Your son, Brandon

I remember when I was about six years old. I was overcome with homesickness while visiting my cousin for my first sleepover. Everything was fine throughout the day until bedtime. I guess it had not hit me until then that I would not be near my parents, even though my Aunt and Uncle were nearby. I remember making such a fuss that my dad had to come pick me up and take me home because I would not go to bed.

Psalm 120 is a psalm for a burdened believer who is far from his spiritual homeland and is living among ungodly people who are only for war. In this Psalm, the writer cries out to the Lord in prayer like a child would by writing or calling home from camp. He cries out to the Lord because he depends on no one else but God (vv. 1-2). He seeks deliverance from God from the deceitful tongues that harass him (vv. 3-4). Therefore, he tells God all about his troubles. He is honest about what troubles him, yet he also confesses his sin and repents of his journey with those who hate peace (vv. 5-6). Then, finally, he leaves his burden behind and seeks the peace of God and proclaims it (v. 7).

Being at peace with God means to completely trust in all that He does and says. It’s knowing He is the Great Shepherd who is always there to provide and protect (Psalm. 23). It means letting His peace rule your heart (Colossians. 3:15). It also means to live at peace with all people (Romans. 12:18) and not be anxious about anything (Philippians 4:7).

Trusting in the Lord is the sure cure for anxiousness and fear while waiting to go home to be with Him. Therefore, be dependent on the Lord through prayer. Be patient. Be steadfast. Be a peacemaker and be excellent in your behavior. Remember, Christians are sojourners in this world. We are just passing through. Make the best of it and trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).