A Song of Ascents. Of David. “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 124:1-8
IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR THE LORD
Have you ever tried to convince your kid to do something that they didn’t want to do? Maybe it looks scary or dangerous like a roller coaster, but you knew if they go on it! You knew that they would have the time of their life! So maybe they get on it for the first time and then once they go for a ride they have the time of their life! Just when it looks like your going to crash into a wall the coaster turns and just when you can’t go any higher it spins you into a loop and at the end of it all the kid is jumping up and down saying… “I want to go again!” And they recount everything that happened. We saw this and then this happened. We saw that and then that happened!
Here the Psalmist are on a pilgrimage. They have been traveling and there are all sorts of dangers along the way. And with excitement they reflect on the journey and what it would have been like if God had not been on their side.
They play the what if game, but in a good way. They ask what if God hadn’t been there on my side how would it have all happened then?
The vivid imagery of things they have seen on their journey become a metaphor for what would have happened to them. It’s like when you are frustrated at the car moving too slow ahead of you only to realize that had you been going the speed limit (or a little faster) you would have been involved in a major wreck. In a sense you note that Lord had kept you from that.
Sometimes our problems come at us and threaten to swallow us whole. The troubles that we experience come from a source that is out to get us. They come from an enemy who seeks to devour us. Like a snake or a large fish that opens its mouth to swallow its prey whole while it is still alive. “If it hadn’t been for the Lord we would have been eaten alive by our enemies!”
Sometimes the problems we face in life come like a flood that is rising all around us. Our lives are threatened to be submerged in chaos. No matter which way we turn there doesn’t seem to be a way out of it. There is no dry ground to crawl to. The water is rising. It’s not over our head yet, but our problems soon will be. Is there anything so helpless as seeing things work against you and not having the ability to do anything about it? Maybe it’s a job loss, or it’s medical bills that pile up, or past mistakes that are catching up to you.
Sometimes our problems come on us all at once. Like a flash flood. It’s not just that we’ll be over our heads soon, but that the waters threaten to sweep us away.
In parts of Israel there would be dry places and when the summer rains would come the dry stream beds or wadis would fill up quickly causing a flash flood to happen. Jesus alludes to this in the sermon on the mount when he talks about the wise man building his house on the rock and the foolish man building his house on the sand. The rains would come and there would come with the rains a mighty torrent.
Sometimes in life it feels like all of our problems are rushing at us all at once. That they threaten to move us or shake us from our foundation. Maybe it’s an unfaithful spouse. Maybe someone is suing you. Maybe you just found out your child is facing addiction.
Praise God that he delivered us when he did! Rather than those hazards doing us in, they have made us more confident in the LORD.
Imagine how many skeletons and scattered bones of dead animals these pilgrims saw on their way to Jerusalem. Now they are praising God that their carcas wasn’t one of them. They may have been pursued but never caught and it wasn’t because of their speed, but because of the LORD.
Our testimony is that when the jaws of the jackals came after us that we were delivered. God didn’t abandon us to our enemies. He was there, He was always with us and He never left us.
This Psalm doesn’t mean that we won’t have problems in life. Indeed it is a testimony that we will face all sorts of problems in life, but it is a song of praise and remembrance of the one who has helped us through every instance of our lives. That even when the waves were crashing all around us. Even when the enemy had us in his clutches. Even when it looked like it was all over, it wasn’t, because the Lord was on our side.
Father, You watch over us! I can look back over my life and I see your hand with me through all the things I have faced. You have guided me through adversity and guarded me, even from my own foolishness at times! I am grateful that you look out over us. I can only imagine what calamities might have come my way in greater abundance or disasters might have been my undoing, if it weren’t for the fact that you were there for me. Thank you for you abundant grace and mercy poured out on my life! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.