“Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he has mercy upon us.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
On what have you placed your eyes? Our world is like a carnival in the manifold of things for us to look at as we navigate through it. There are more things to which we can direct our attention than we could possibly count. What’s more, many of these things are not silent and waiting. Like a carnival barker they call, no, they demand, our attention.
I was walking through a mall food court the other day trying to decide where I would eat dinner. Twice in my deliberations I walked past a Chinese restaurant. Out front was a young man with a sample tray as is common practice for many food court Chinese restaurants. Both times he asked, not once, not twice, but continually as I passed if I wanted to try a sample of their menu. Even after I said, “No, thank you,” he continued to press until I was out of ear shot. He knew that if he could get me to pause even a little bit, I was likely to try one. And, if I tried one, the likelihood that I would buy dinner there went way up too.
In the same vein, the various things around us vying for our attention know that if we lay our eyes on them we are more likely to go in their direction. Indeed, we tend to go where we are looking. We give our greatest attention to the thing on which our eyes rest.
My three-year-old still likes to be carried around, and I’m still enough of a sucker that I do it. While being carried, he is free to look anywhere he wants since he trusts that I’m focused on getting the two of us where we need to go. Sometimes, though, something sufficiently catches his eye that he wants me to take him there. Does he say, “Daddy, please take me over there”? No, he does not. He grabs my beard and tries to physically turn my head toward whatever it is. He understands even now that we go in the direction our eyes are pointing us.
It takes effort not to do this it is so natural. I still remember one of my early highway driving lessons with my dad. I was merging onto the highway, and as I turned my head to look over my shoulder to check for traffic, I turned the wheel as well and we started drifting into the grass between the ramp and the highway. My dad quickly alerted me to the problem and got us straightened out. Then he applied the lesson: Don’t turn the wheel in the direction you are looking when you are changing lanes and merging. It takes great discipline to look around and remain on your path.
So again I ask: Where are you resting your eyes? Psalm 123 is part of a collection of psalms called the “Psalms of Ascent.” These were hymns and songs pilgrims would sing as they headed up the hills to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices in the Temple. Jerusalem was at the top of a mountain and so they sung as they ascended. They were literally lifting their eyes to the hills as they went. More than that, they were lifting their eyes to the Lord as they came to worship.
As we journey through this life, we need to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord if we want to stay moving consistently in His direction. There are times when we need to pay attention to what’s going on around us so we don’t get blindsided by something, but our path must not change. We discipline ourselves to stay on the path in spite of the potential distractions. If we want to receive the blessings of being with the Lord, we need to keep our eyes fixed on Him. As the psalmist here declares, we keep our eyes fixed on Him until we receive mercy from Him. Where are your eyes? Make sure they are where they need to be so you can get to the right destination.