Bible Commentaries
Psalms 123

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 1

Psalms 123:0.

The godly profess their confidence in God, and pray to be delivered from contempt.

A Song of Degrees.

Title. המעלות שׁיר Shiir hammangaloth.] Bishop Patrick thinks this psalm was composed in that time of distress, when the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh to besiege Hezekiah in Jerusalem. He observes, that Hezekiah desired Isaiah to lift up his prayer for the remnant that was left: 2 Kings 19:4.Isaiah 37:4; Isaiah 37:4. Accordingly we read, 2Ch 32:20 that both he and Hezekiah cried unto the Lord; and we may suppose, continues the Bishop, that Isaiah lift up his eyes to heaven, and repeated the words of this psalm. Mr. Mudge remarks, however, that this psalm seems to be pronounced as by persons just come within view of the temple, and with steadfast eyes praying to be relieved from the contemptuous treatment which they endured from their insolent enemies.

Verse 2

Psalms 123:2. As the eyes of servants look unto the hand Masters had a power not only of commanding, but of severely punishing their servants; accordingly, this looking to the hand, &c. properly denotes the servant under chastisement, turning the eyes, and looking to the hand that striketh, and beseeching and importuning for mercy; an argument of a meek, patient, and reforming disposition. On the contrary, it is objected to the Jews, Isaiah 9:13 that they turn not to him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of hosts.

Verse 4

Psalms 123:4. Of those that are at ease Or, Of the insolent. The Hebrew word שׁאננים shaanannim is used not only for quiet or secure, in the original notion, but, by a metonymy of the cause for the effect, for insolent or scornful; because ease and security too often make men so.


1. The Psalmist's approach unto God. Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens, the place of his glorious abode, whither our prayer must be directed, and where with the eye of faith we must behold him, ready to hear and answer us.

2. The temper in which he approached God, he illustrates by the similitude of servants looking to their master or mistress for direction, sustenance, protection, chastisement, wages; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, for his divine teaching how to walk and please him; for his continual supplies of living bread to nourish our souls; for support against all those who would obstruct us in our blessed Master's service; for the wages of the eternal inheritance which God hath promised, not of debt indeed, but of grace; or for such kind correction as he sees we need, and under which we cheerfully and patiently submit, until that he have mercy upon us, which he infallibly will show in time and eternity, to all those who perseveringly wait on him as their only refuge.

3. The plea that he urges. Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us; on this alone we must found our hope, for merit we have none; in one word, it comprehends all our wants, which God knows better than we do ourselves; and it is repeated to shew the fervent importunity which those who are endued with the spirit of prayer use, when deeply sensible of the want of that mercy which they seek; for we are exceedingly filled with contempt, the common lot of God's people, who are despised as poor, ignorant, deluded; their, holy peculiarities in sentiment and practice ridiculed, and their persons treated as the scum and off-scouring of all things, by a sensual, proud, and adulterous generation. Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning of those that are at ease, and with the contempt of the proud; the scorners who set God at defiance, live after the indulgence of their lusts, careless and secure about futurity, puffed up with affluence and honour, taking pleasure in vilifying and insulting the despised people of God. But let such know, that there is one who resents these indignities, and will return them; the tables will quickly change at the prayer of the faithful, the despised followers of Jesus be exalted to the throne of glory, and those proud sensualists thrust down into the pit, and covered with everlasting shame and contempt.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 123". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.