For we are greatly filled with contempt.
Our soul is greatly filled
With the scoffing of those who are at ease,
And with the contempt of the proud.”
—Psalm 123:3-4 (NASB)
The Psalms is the destination most often chosen by someone who feels the need for an injection of inspiration, and it certainly does not disappoint. But in the course of normal Bible study I find that many do not understand that what is referred to as the “Books of Wisdom” (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon) have the role of providing a real life commentary on the “Books of the Law” (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The Psalms are teaching us not only the proper context of the Law, but how God intended it to be applied. And one of the repeated teachings in the Psalms is we are not supposed to trust in this life.
“Contempt” is a word which in general has a negative connotation to it, the textbook definition reflecting someone who despises, disdains, or shows a complete lack of respect or reverence for something. But when it comes to the things of this world versus the things of God, this is actually not just an appropriate response but a spiritually healthy one. In particular the Psalmist is pointing to “the scoffing of those who are at ease“, a poetic way of describing those who completely trust and rely on the things of this world and have no idea their ultimate destination is actually hell. Such who cling to the world’s ways themselves ultimately display “the contempt of the proud“, an open disdain for the things of God.
I think there are times in every true believer’s life when the direction of the world appears so crazy and contrary to God’s Word and ways that we express this same request to God, which basically asks, “Lord, take me away from all of this”. It is often something relatively small which for some reason will overwhelm me like when the evening news airs reasons why the words “under God” should be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance. The reality sinks in that even in the most familiar surroundings, it is I and my Christian brethren who have become the aliens in the land regardless of its Christian legacy.
I am not talking about giving in to depression, but as I stated earlier, holding to something that is actually healthy. It is in the same spirit as when Jesus last visited Jerusalem and wept over her choice of such things over Him. The truth is that if the ways of the world get to you from time to time it is probably a reminder that your heart truly is in the right place, yearning to be with Him instead of with them.†††