We hear and read many promises in an election campaign. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a political party will solve all the ills in our society – some can present politics as a kind of saviour. At the same time, others are tired of hearing promises from politicians, as too often promises have not been kept. It can almost feel as if it doesn’t matter who you vote for – nothing is going to change.

Psalms 123 and 124 provide a helpful rejoinder to these twin temptations, towards either political idolatry or political apathy. The opening lines of Psalm 123 encourage us to lift up our eyes to the one who sits enthroned in heaven” (Psalm 123:1). The ascension of Jesus has revealed to us that Jesus is the one who is now enthroned in heaven. He is the one to whom we lift our eyes as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

Indeed, the Psalm gives an analogy between how a slave looks to their master and how we are to lift our eyes to the one enthroned in heaven. This language seems extreme and yet it is a phrase we find reiterated by Paul as he refers to being a slave to Christ (Romans 1:1). The overwhelming witness of Scripture is that Jesus is Lord and therefore He is the one who truly deserves our faith, hope and love. Throughout the election campaign, fixing our eyes on Jesus will help us to remember who our true Saviour is, offering us a lens of grace and truth through which we can assess the divergent visions for the UK being offered by different political parties.

Meanwhile, Psalm 124 ends on a familiar refrain: Our help is in the name of the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Drawing Christians back to our belief in God as our creator helps to give us hope in the face of a political system that can be hard to trust. Colossians 1:16 – 17 encourages us that all things were created through the Son and all things are being held together in the Son. This includes the rulers and authorities. So we are not to commit political idolatry by focusing on these rulers and authorities, and we are not to be afraid of them. 

But in the face of the second temptation, to become apathetic to the politics of our land, Paul encourages us to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1 – 2) because, however hard we find this concept, Paul argues the authorities have been established by God (Romans 13:1). We trust that God’s Spirit is at work reconciling all of creation to God the Father through the Son, and that includes establishing right human action in politics. Therefore, in this election season let’s heed Paul’s encouragement and pray that whoever ends up in authority will be malleable to the Spirit’s perfecting work.