Meditations on Psalms 123-125 – Suffering and security

This is the second meditation for my church’s week of prayer. There is a summary below the video if you would rather read than watch.

Imagine living in a country where even watching a video like this would place you and your family in great danger.

According to the Open Doors’ World Watch List, some 260 million Christians are living in countries where they are at risk of high to extreme levels of persecution.

In Psalms 123 and 124, the pilgrims reflect on suffering as God’s people.  

Psalm 123 starts with an expression of trust. Psalm 125 is a psalm of confidence in the Lord and His protection for His people.  Like the two pieces of bread in a sandwich, the description of suffering is surrounded by an expression of security.

The sufferings are not described in detail, but you can sense their grief:  “Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy, for we have had more than enough of contempt” (Psalm 123:3).  “They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger” (Psalm 124:3).  “Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth!” (Psalm 124:6).

Yet, somehow, at the same time as suffering, a great confidence and security in God is seen in all three Psalms.  In Psalm 123:1, the suffering people of God express their trust:  “…as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master… so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He has mercy upon us.”  I am challenged when I read of the suffering people of God in other countries – how they still trust Him in the midst of terrible times.  We can learn from them.

Then Psalm 124 acknowledges that, despite the terrible suffering, they have been preserved by the Lord (“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…”).  God’s protection doesn’t necessarily mean freedom from suffering, but it does mean that the Lord keeps us through the trouble (“…they would have swallowed us up alive….” (v3), but they didn’t).

Then, even more strongly, in Psalm 125, the pilgrims are confident that God is in control and that He is their protector : “The Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever” (Psalm 125:2).

This security flows into the New Testament, where there is great confidence even in suffering because of the Christian’s eternal hope: “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” (2 Corinthians 4:17).  

Let’s join our prayers today with suffering Christians.


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