Saturday, May 29, 2010

Had It Not Been the Lord - Psalm 124

"'Had it not been the LORD who was on our side,'
let Israel now say,
'Had it not been the LORD who was on our side,
when men rose up against us;
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the waters would have engulfed us;
the stream would have swept over our soul;
then the raging waters would have swept over our soul.'

Blessed be the LORD,
who has not given us to be torn by their teeth,
Our soul has escaped as a bird
out of the snare of the trapper;
the snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 124)

God's people have been under some form of great oppression. It has been horribly harrowing. It has threatened to undo them. It has come close to pulling them under.


...but God....

But God, in His infinite mercy and covenantal kindness has delivered His people from danger. In view of that, David is overflowing with a thankful heart and has penned this fifth psalm of ascent.

The psalm breaks down into two main parts. Verses 1-5 describe the magnitude of the affliction they were facing and then verses 6-8 give God all the glory and honor and praise for their rescue from it.

Clearly things have been more than a bit unsettling. Men have risen up against the people of God. They have been determined to destroy Israel. Look at the language used to describe their circumstances.

-"They would have swallowed us alive."

-"The waters would have engulfed us."

-"The stream would have swept over our soul."

-"The raging waters would have swept over our soul."

It is not a pretty picture. The clouds are dark and omnious. There is no recognizable light on the horizon. There is deep despair and massive fear. "The people of God were reduced to the very brink of ruin" (Matthew Henry). Their enemies wanted nothing less than their complete demise and utter destruction and they were dead set at accomplishing their goal.

David and his people were in peril - great peril - BUT...

...but GOD...

...but God was on their side!!

Oh that is good news. In that fact we find the great white knight riding to rescue his persecuted people. He has come and He has gained the victory.

David cries out for the entire corporate community that "Had it not been for the LORD who was on our side they would have massacred us!" God was for them, therefore, who could be against them?!

Matthew Henry, writing from David's perspective says:

"God was on our side; He took our part, espoused our cause, and appeared for us. That God was Jehovah and there the emphasis lies. If it had not been Jehovah Himself, a God of infinite power and perfection, that had undertaken our deliverance, our enemies would have overpowered us."
Oh my friends - that same Jehovah is still on the side of His people in this day and time!! He remains for us. Pause and drink in that glorious truth. Jehovah is for us!!
I am reminded of Paul's words to the Romans:

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the One who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'For Thy sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.'

"But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:31-39)

Were it not so, were the LORD not for us - regarding our physical and spiritual enemies, we too would have sunk beneath the mire and been utterly undone. "Had it not been the LORD who was on our side...they would have swallowed us alive!"

With that triumphant truth proclaimed there is only one logical and natural response - praise!! And that is exactly what David does. He blesses the name of the LORD. "Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us to be torn by their teeth."

The danger was great. Their God was greater. It is always the case. Rejoice, oh people of God!!

David beautifully describes the grand extent of their rescue. They were hopeless and helpless. They were as a little bird caught in a powerful snare. There was NOTHING they could do. NOTHING!!


...but God!

"They were delivered like a lamb out of the very jaws of a beast of prey. They were rescued like a little bird out of the fowler's snare. God's people are sometimes taken in the snare and are as unable to help themselves out as any weak and silly bird is, and then God breaks the snare and turns the counsels of the enemies into foolishness." (Matthew Henry)

Oh, how could David and all of Israel not break out into praise of such a redeeming God!! How can we not do the same?

When we pause to consider just what God has done in our spiritual and physical rescues how can we not break out into emphatic praise? The apostle Paul did. In the book of Romans, after spending eleven chapters of noting the majestic works of his omnipotent and holy God, the wretched fallen condition of his helpless fellow man, and the redeeming mercies that are manifested to us in Christ he breaks out with these words:

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the LORD, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen." (Romans 11:33-36)

That is where my heart lands this day. In all honesty, I have spent the past 13 months in the fowler's snare. The waters have threatened to engulf me. The raging waters have come close to ruining me.


...but God.

The Lord has been on my side and has plucked me out at just the perfect moment. The clouds have lifted. The sun has broken through. The enemy has vanished. "Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us to be torn by their teeth!!" It is my heart's cry this morning.

David ends with a final declaration regarding Israel's Helper. He says: "Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth."
Friends, is the God who made the world your help? Are you resting in the name of the LORD as your only hope against the enemies of your body and soul? If He is for you then who can be against you? If He is against you then all is lost. Faith in Christ makes the difference.

Israel's enemies in Psalm 124 had no hope. They had no hope because they were God's enemies. Jehovah was not for them and therefore everything was against them! They fell eternally into the very traps and snares that they sought to destroy His church in. It is a dangerous thing to fall into the hands of a righteously angry God and there is only one way to escape that wrath that justly belongs to us all. That way is through Christ. Apart from faith in Him you are a helpless and hopeless enemy of Almighty God.

Paul tells us: "For while we were still helpless at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.... and God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." (Romans 5:6-10)

Oh friends, the same Jehovah who rescued Israel from the fowler's snare will rescue you. If you are His enemy, flee to Him, through Christ, in repentance and faith and become His friend! He will offer you a treaty of peace - eternal peace. If you are His child, then rest knowing that your "help is in the name of the LORD who made heaven and earth."

Lift up your eyes. Lift up your eyes to the One who is enthroned in the heavens. Lift up your eyes to this Christ who is your all-sufficient Surety. Lift up your eyes to the LORD Jehovah who is on your side and bless His name for His marvelous merices to you! There is lasting help and hope found in none other.

Praising Him for rescuing me,

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