Daily Worship

Have mercy

November 16, 2020 0
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Psalm 123 (NRSV)

1 To you I lift up my eyes,
    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
2 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.

3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
    for we have had more than enough of contempt.
4 Our soul has had more than its fill
    of the scorn of those who are at ease,
    of the contempt of the proud.

Sometimes the psalms seem to be written from a place of victimhood. Here, we hear the references to servanthood which reflect some of the New Testament writings about being slaves to God. It’s a reminder that in a world of freedom, we serve a living God. But then, when the psalmist asks for mercy, he says that he has had enough of contempt. It’s almost as if he isn’t asking for mercy for his sin or for his failings or for his laziness. Instead, he is asking God to give him a break from being persecuted. 

I’m not sure “Give me a break, God” is what mercy is about. Instead, I think of mercy as saying the Jesus Prayer each morning: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” A moment to identify with the saints in their devotion to God, their realisation of their own imperfection, a calling upon Jesus to save us from ourselves. A friend of mine says this prayer while making the sign of the cross on her feet. Would it make a difference to our day? Would it bring in mercy and cast out our own self-centredness?

PRAYER:

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.
Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.