Thursday February 1
The LORD Is on Our Side
Psalm 124:1-8 A Song of Ascents. Of David
1 "If it had not been the LORD who was on our side," Let Israel now say--
2 "If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, When men rose up against us,
3 Then they would have swallowed us alive, When their wrath was kindled against us;
4 Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, The stream would have gone over our soul;
5 Then the swollen waters Would have gone over our soul."
6 Blessed be the LORD, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
7 Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 124 is the fifth of the “Assent Songs” and the second that is ascribed to be written by David. Remember the contempt and ridicule of Psalm 123? It has now been mixed with anger (v. 3) and become open hostility in Psalm 124. There are several occasions as to when David might have written it. After he was anointed king, it wasn’t long till Saul was trying to set traps and kill him. Or possibly, shortly after he became king, the Philistines attack Israel. Or even later when his son Absolom rose up against him. In each situation the LORD gave him deliverance and this psalm may have been his song of thanksgiving to the Lord.
Some believe that Hezekiah might have used this psalm when he was attacked by the Assyrians, but God sent an angel that killed over 180,000 enemy soldiers in one night and gave deliverance. It might have been used again later when Nehemiah and the people were repairing the walls and gates of Jerusalem, the surrounding nations ridiculed them (Neh. 2:19-20; 4:1-5) and then threatened to attack them (Neh. 4:7-23). Nehemiah's words "Our God will fight for us" (Neh. 4:20) remind us of 124:1-2 and 8. We may not have entire nations and armies opposing us, but we do face emergencies that are more than we can handle. That is when we turn to the Lord for help, because He is on our side and helps us with these emergencies.
In verses 1-2, we see the sudden attack of the enemy. The phrase "rose up" gives the image of a sudden ambush, a sneak attack that might have defeated Israel, except the Lord was on their side. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31). Our enemy Satan does not give advance warning of his attacks; therefore, we must be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8), put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18), and be alert in our praying. God promised His chosen people that He would curse those who cursed them (Gen. 12:3), and He has kept that promise. If we are walking with the Lord, we need not feel unprepared for the enemy's sudden attacks.
Next in verses 3-5, the enemy is pictured as a great flood overwhelming Israel. Here is a situation where we stand helpless as the problem gets worse and worse. During the rainy season, and when the mountain snow melts, the dry riverbeds in Israel quickly become filled with water and flash floods threaten houses and people. The psalmist feared that the raging waters of persecution would sweep over him and his people and that they would be swallowed up forever. Jeremiah pictured the Babylonian captivity of Israel as Nebuchadnezzar swallowing the nation (Jer. 51:34, 44). But if the Lord is on our side, He will provide a way of escape.
In verse 6, the enemy is pictured as a beast which is often a biblical picture of persecution. There are twelve words in the Hebrew language for lions, which indicates that the Jewish people in that day took wild beasts seriously. Jeremiah compared Babylon to a lion (Jer. 4:7; 51:38), and Peter compared Satan to a prowling lion (1 Peter 5:8). Like a cunning animal, Satan stalks us and waits until we have relaxed our guard, and then he pounces. But the Lord is stronger than Satan, and if we are abiding in Him, we can win the victory.
Finally in verses 7-8, the enemy is pictured laying a hidden trap. We must use the Word of God to throw light on our path so we can detect and avoid the devil's traps (Psalm 119:105; 91:1-3; 1 Tim. 3:7; 6:9; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). The picture is that of a helpless bird who walked into the trap in order to eat the food. Satan always has fascinating bait to offer. The Lord may allow us to fall into a trap, but nobody can keep us when He wants us to be free.
The Lord not only opened the trap but broke it so it cannot be used again! The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has broken the dominion of sin and death, and we can walk in freedom through Jesus Christ.
Praise God, we don’t need to fear! We are not helpless! Because "Our help is in the name of the LORD, Who made heaven and earth" (v. 8). And He is on our side!