Do you skim when you read? Are you skimming right now?! If so, don’t feel badly. I skim all the time. In fact, last Spring, one of my professors called me, “Skim.”
The class was Federal Income Tax – every Monday through Thursday at 9:30 am. The professor was Marvin Chirelstein - a tax lawyer extraordinaire who has been teaching at Columbia for almost 30 years. When calling on students, Chirelstein did a modified version of the Socratic Method, in that he called on them in alphabetical order according to last name. On the morning that I was christened as “Skim,” I calculated that I would not be called on based on the class list. What I had not anticipated, however, was that he would be working from an outdated class list! All of a sudden, I heard, “Ms. Jenkins, what is the issue of this case?” Dumbfoundedly, I searched the opinion and fumbled through a poor excuse of an answer. Understandably, he was confused. I said, “To be honest, Professor, I skimmed the case.” He laughed and called me, “Skim,” for the rest of the semester. In fact, students started calling me it as well - even outside of class!
As a self-proclaimed expert in skimming, therefore, I want to focus on a verse in Psalm 123 that I would have normally skimmed right over – for it is not the main point of the Psalm and appears rather introductory. Yet, its tiny message is profound. Psalm 123:1 reads,
I lift up my eyes to you,
to you whose throne is in heaven. NIV.
Pretty simple, right? Here comes the profundity …
First, the Psalmist indicates that God has a throne, which means that He is a king. If you are a subject in a monarchy, you want to avoid the king’s bad side because he has enormous discretion in his kingdom, and his reign does not end until he dies. Also, if you gain access to him, you gain access to his entire kingdom – including his land holdings, treasury, and dominion. In Psalm 123, God is king – He has dominion and power over His created kingdom, and we have access to Him. This is profound.
Second, the Psalmist says that His throne is in heaven, which means that he has a view of the world and time that we do not. He sits in a place from which there is perfect perspective – on joy, suffering, and humanity. We, on the other hand, sit in a place where there is limited perspective. Time is linear to us. We have no idea how the world fits together because we are limited to what we see today. This is profound.
Finally, the Psalmist responds to these two realities by lifting up his eyes to God. He knows that, since his God is king who knows all, there is no other response than to lift up his eyes and look to Him. Such a simple and skimmable concept.
But, let’s not skim this today. Let’s consider: God sits on a throne that is in heaven. We can go before Him and seek His counsel and help. Let’s praise Him for how He has given us access to Him through His Son. Let’s trust Him that, although we may not fully understand our situations, He has grand purposes and faces no limitations in accomplishing them.