"Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.
Behold, as the eyes of the servants look unto the hand of their masters,
and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress;
so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God,
until he have mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord,
have mercy upon us:
for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.
Our soul is exceedingly filled with
the scorning of those that are at ease,
and with the contempt of the proud."
"To You I lift up my eyes,
O You who are enthroned in the heavens!"
This begins so similar to the previous Psalm 121, "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains." Sometimes the only time we look up like that is when we are so low that the only direction we can look is up. Yet there is something so achingly beautiful here. It is more like the way the eye is drawn to beauty and cannot look away. Or perhaps, more like the eyes which lift its lids to look up to the one they have loved and adored. "You who are enthroned in the heavens." What a sight!
Jesus Himself taught us to pray, "Our Father who art in heaven." Jesus wants us to practice praying with the perspective of God as our Abba-daddy. It is the conversation that reaches from heaven to earth. Here is shown the greatness of God in the extreme: "Infinitely raised above us: but affected with our miserable condition, and always ready to help us." (Adam Clarke) It reminds us of the saying, "God's in His heaven and all's right with the world."
"In every prayer we lift up our soul, the eye of our soul, to God, especially in trouble, which was the case here...This is illustrated by a similitude: Our eyes are to God as the eyes of a servant, and handmaid, to the hand of their master and mistress...And to God must we look for daily bread, for grace sufficient...They submit themselves to and humble themselves under God's mighty hand. The servant expects his wages, his well-done, from his master. " (Matthew Henry)
The question then is, who are we serving? Who are we looking expectantly to? I used to say jokingly, "I look to the mailbox, from whence cometh my help," knowing full well that it would be a miracle if some check should miraculously arrive to bring momentary relief. However, we can't look for help in the form of a paycheck nor from an unexpected gift. We can't look for help in the arm of flesh which will fail us. Rather James 1:17 teaches us that "Every good thing given and every perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
Then the perspective that dims our hope is when we get our eyes off God and look at just our circumstances, to our surroundings, especially if under oppression as were the captives. "We are exceedingly filled with contempt...We are scorned...They are at ease, loaded with wealth, and sunk in indolence. They are proud, puffed up with their own importance; and this leads them to despise others. Proud men are for the most part empty, hallow-pated men: and contempt and scorn from such wounds deeply; especially if they rise, as they often do, from the dunghill." (Adam Clarke)
Think of who took Jesus before Pilot. It was the affluent Jewish religious rulers who felt their power and affluence threatened. Therefore, they whipped up the crowd to shout, "Crucify Him!" So don't be fooled to think that God in His heaven does not understand such persecution. So when we cry, "Have mercy upon us," don't doubt that God in His tenderheartedness hears and will answer.
There is a distain present in the current national discourse which sneeringly looks down upon those who dare differ from their elitest world view, that we are ignorant, bigots, xenophobes, sexist, racist, misogynist (when did that word come into such common use?) and ...phobic idiots. Fill in the blank. We are the ones who cling to our guns and our Bibles. Yep. That's us. So we are bold enough and humble enough to cry to our God, "Have mercy upon us." We look to none other.