Devotion - November 14, 2020

Psalm 123:1-2

1. I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. 2. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.

Reflection by Darlene Wagner The wording and imagery of this Psalm are utterly repugnant. Why do the eyes of the slaves look to the hand of their master? Are they anticipating brutal punishment? Do the eyes of the maid look to the hand of her mistress because the mistress readily beats and abuses her? Here in Twenty-first century America, our society continues to be torn apart over the long, toxic shadow of slavery. In previous centuries, this Psalm may have been misused to justify the oppression of Black and Brown peoples. This Psalm nonetheless deserves some cultural illumination. The ancient Hebrews owned slaves, although they had once been enslaved themselves. Yet, slaves owned by Hebrews had many rights spelled out in the Torah. By contrast, slaves in the United States before the Civil War had no rights and could be brutalized as their “owners” saw fit. Historical legacies aside, like most Psalms, this one illustrates the relationship between the Hebrew people and their God. Verse 1 places the Hebrew God at the very top of the hierarchy. Verse 2 ends with the hope of Divine compassion instead of the implied punishment.

Invocation: Divine, life-giving Father guide us! Guide us as we overcome our past. A past in which our ancestors oppressed. The ancestors of many of our neighbors. All-Loving Father strengthen us! Strengthen us for all the years ahead. Years in which we work, restoring equity And justice in our families and nation!

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