Day 4

Longing for the Nearness of God

Psalm 123:1-4

BY She Reads Truth

Scripture Reading: Psalm 123

The Christian life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. As Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, but we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were sung by worshipers as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. In this 3-week reading plan, we are digging into these traveling songs with the help of short summary essays and thoughtful, reflective questions for each psalm. Take your pack on your shoulder and walk with us as we pursue God together.


Psalm 123 (CSB)
A song of ascents.

1 I lift my eyes to you,
the one enthroned in heaven.
2 Like a servant’s eyes on his master’s hand,
like a servant girl’s eyes on her mistress’s hand,
so our eyes are on the LORD our God
until he shows us favor.

3 Show us favor, LORD, show us favor,
for we’ve had more than enough contempt.
4 We’ve had more than enough
scorn from the arrogant
and contempt from the proud.


A Song About Who We Are
The pilgrim-disciple meditates on who she is to God, and who God is to her.

Who gets to tell us who we are? Many voices will try to answer that question for us. For the pilgrim-disciple, our Maker is the only one who has that right. Our goal in life is to grow in our understanding of who God is and who we are in our relationship with Him.

1. This psalm promotes enthusiastic obedience to God’s commands. The servant watches for the master’s hand to beckon. Why does it make sense to desire the instruction of the Lord? Why should we be eager to hear His commands?

2. This psalm asks God for mercy. What are some specific things we are asking for when we ask God to show us mercy? What sorts of things must we be willing to surrender when we ask God for mercy?

3. We cannot know all there is to know about God, but God has revealed Himself in part. What has God made known to us about Himself? What has He revealed about who we are?


Post Comments (77)

77 thoughts on "Longing for the Nearness of God"

  1. Caitie Fredrickson says:

    Someone from my past tore me down and constantly told me I am not enough. Lately his words have echoed in my head every day, telling me I am nothing. This Psalm reminds me that I am who the Great I am says I am. And he calls me beautiful, loved, treasured, set apart, washed clean, loveable, enough. Jesus, speak thwse words over my heart and help me to believe them. Amen.

  2. Micahlee says:

    I am being hit with many lies at this moment. Thankful for this reminder.

  3. Ashley says:

    We should be eager to hear God’s commands because it means the pressure is off of us. Like a child, who doesn’t stress over what needs to be done each day, but rather responds to one simple task at a time as mommy tells him, so it is with us when we follow our Father’s commands. Gone is the need to constantly plan, strive and stress. His commands will lead us step by gentle step, for Jesus promised His burden is light and easy to bear.

    1. Krystyn Carey says:

      Love this- “gone is the need to plan, strive, and stress.”

  4. Jennifer Vaughn-Estrada says:

    Is it me, or does no one else see a conflict between the first two study questions? It makes sense for God’s people to be eagerly awaiting His loving instructions, and it also makes sense for them to beg for His mercy when they fall short of His expectations. However, I’m puzzled why both would occur in the same passage. If you’re seeking God’s mercy right now, why ask Him for more rules?

    1. Brittany says:

      Jennifer, my understanding is that while we are always seeking the forgiveness and mercy of God–because we are sinless, imperfect people in need of His grace and forgiveness–we are also longing for His instruction, since He knows what is best for us and what the future holds. Someone with such an intimate knowledge of (and control over) the future is someone you’d look to to tell you what to do next, and what the best plans for your life are.

    2. Carly Howard says:

      Good question, I’m there with you and often tend to see conflicts too. This passage though I took a little different, rather than the looking for more “rules” I think it illustrates where to look period. “Unto You I lift up my eyes” aka his eyes are not on his circumstances or self, but on the Lord. A commentary I read put it this way: “The servant looks to the hand of their masters for the slightest indication of need or want, to instantly meet the need. With that same intensity, devotion, and steadfastness the Psalmist looks to God.” I like how they put that—the servant seems so loving, right? As we persevere and keep our attention fixed until the Lord extends His mercy, perhaps we can look learn more about Him and become more like Him too in the process.

    3. Rachel says:

      Hey Jennifer, it does seems conflicting at first, but only until we understand the nature of God’s law. If you read Kristi’s post above about Psalm 19 it might help you see how God’s law and instruction are in fact a huge part of His mercy! Praying that God reveals His love to you today!

  5. Kimberly says:

    I have been telling myself lies for so long, like — I can’t do this, I can’t be what I should. It’s going to take deliberate effort, walking with God, listening to God to make all the lies that are second nature to stop.

  6. bree says:

    I have considered question one extensively over the last little while. Specifically, how can I be striving for (instead of resenting) purity in my life? Why should I LOVE the law when everything in me that is human… is telling me not to?
    I will never forget the moment I finally found my answer. This great book , which sometimes seems like a list of rules and regulations if I’m being honest, was never intended to bind or imprison us. It’s the exact opposite, actually. Romans 8:2 says “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death”. What an especially beautiful truth huh?!

  7. Chessie says:

    God has provided so much in the last few weeks alone.. I’m going on a nine month long, five country mission trip in September and I have smashed through my first fundraising goal of $5,000. Despite seeing that huge blessing, I still hear the nagging voice of Satan saying “You have gone too far from God in your past to ever deserve a blessing such as this.”.
    I’m then reminded of what mercy truly is. Not just his mercy, but his grace for us. He has restored me and blessed me beyond what I deserve – not as a reward for doing good, but as a reminder that it is he who takes away and he who gives. I’m so excited for the rest of this study and I’m amazed at the love God has shown to me just over the last week.

    1. Emily B. says:

      Your testimony goes perfectly with the reading and questions today. Thank you for sharing!

    2. Emily says:

      Thank you for sharing! It’s a gift to let us celebrate the victories with you.

    3. Sarah says:

      Chessie, are you doing the Gap year through Adventures in Missions??

  8. Kristi says:

    As I read question one, these verses from Psalm 19 came to mind:

    “The law of the Lord is perfect,
    refreshing the soul.
    The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
    The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
    The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
    The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
    The decrees of the Lord are firm,
    and all of them are righteous.
    They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
    they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the honeycomb.
    By them your servant is warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.”
    – Psalms 19:7-11

    In my study Bible, it says, “When we think of statutes, precepts, and commands, we often think of rules that keep us from having fun. But here we see the opposite – law that revives us, makes us wise, gives joy to the heart, gives light to the eyes, warns us, and rewards us. That’s because God’s laws are guidelines and lights for our path, rather than chains on our hands and feet. They point at ranger and warn us, and then point at success and guide us.”

    It took a long time for me to see God’s laws and instruction in that light. I always knew in my head that they were for my own good, but keeping His laws became more about obligation for me than a genuine desire to obey and please God.

    It wasn’t until I began to truly seek the Lord and humble myself before Him that I realized what a precious gift He has given us. He loves us so much that He continually guides us in the right direction and points us away from the wrong one. Praying that I would remember that truth daily so that I enthusiastically obey His commands and treat Him as the omniscient God that He is.

    1. Kristi says:

      Oops. It is supposed to say “They point at DANGER” not “ranger”…

    2. Shelly says:


    3. Rachel says:

      Thank you for this Kristi! It’s so easy to fall into legalism and forget the joy of following Jesus just for the beauty of who He is and what He’s done for us. Our tendency is to think of any “restriction if freedom” is harmful and unfair; but the reality if the law of God is that all the “restrictions” are actually to the ultimate liberation of our souls into rest, peace, and joy.

    4. Kelley Day says:

      Love this sister~

    5. Amanda Hibler says:

      Yes!! Thank you for sharing!

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