What do you do when you’re the recipient of someone’s contempt?
Have you ever been the object of someone’s contempt? Or experienced strong criticism or scorn, whether from a coworker in your command, in a family relationship, in a friendship, or even in your military marriage? Chances are you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s criticism. Fortunately, there’s an app for that; it’s called Psalm 123. It provides us with a model for how to navigate through someone’s bias projected at us.
Psalm 123 opens with the psalmist comparing himself to a servant. “As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord, our God, until he has mercy upon us” (v. 2). According to Exodus 21:6, a servant had the choice of staying on with her mistress after six years of service. If the servant voluntarily chose to stay with her mistress and her mistress (or master) also agreed to keep the servant, then the servant became known as a bondservant. If she chose not to stay, the servant was allowed to go free in the seventh year. Due to this distinction, this is why a bondservant was not the same as a slave. The bondservant decided upon her own free will to stay on and serve her master. In return, all of the bondservant’s basic needs were met and the master was responsible for her total care. The bondservant also became part of the master’s home and family.
So, what does a bondservant have to do with contempt? Think about the role of a bondservant. Bondservants kept their focus on their master. They watched with anticipation the hands of her mistress anticipating her forthcoming guidance for fulfilling the will of her mistress. She must maintain her gaze on her mistress or risk missing that guidance.
The same is true for Jesus. He kept His focus on His heavenly Father so He could receive direction for fulfilling God’s purposes. Likewise, when we seek out the Lord on some troubling issue, we’re looking for direction from Him, but we’re also seeking compassion. For we know that God is the Giver of all that sustains us. In those times when we’ve had more than enough contempt, we can follow the example of the bondservant. We can settle our focus upon Jesus and seek His guidance in the matter. Like the master, who, with care is responsible for the bondservant’s life, including providing mercy and compassion, we can seek the same from Jesus in our contemptuous circumstances. Psalm 111:4 says, “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion.” We are to fix our eyes on our Master, watching intently for any hint of what His hands will do in our contemptuous situations. If we seek Him, He will be found to be faithful.
This article was taken my book, “Faith Steps for Military Families – Spiritual Readiness Through the Psalms of Ascent.” You can also find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/FaithStepsForMilitaryFamilies and Twitter @lisanixonphilli