1 A song of ascents. Of David.
If the LORD had not been on our side— let Israel say— 2 if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us, 3 when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; 4 the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, 5 the raging waters would have swept us away.
6 Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. 7 We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 124 – The LORD is ‘on our side’
(Verses 1-5) This ‘song of ascents’ is written by the most prolific writer of psalms, David. He starts with ‘If’ and then repeats it for emphasis. This is not the ‘if’ of doubt, but the ‘if’ as in ‘what if’. He is so convinced and assured of the LORD’s protecting presence with him that he expresses it to show just the reverse of doubt. Here is a small psalm which dispenses great assurance to all believers. So, what is David saying? Speaking for the body of the Lord’s people, whom he leads, He knows that ‘the LORD’ has always ‘been ‘on our side’ and still is. That is true for each individual believer and is also true for the community he represents, namely the Israelite people. It is equally true now for every individual who has put his trust in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, as well as for every assembly and gathering of sinners who have been ‘born-again’. It applies too to the universal Church of God, which consists of every person throughout the whole world and throughout all time who has been saved by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The LORD really is ‘on our side’. Romans 8:31 asks a question and answers it with another one: ‘What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?’ In the next verse it adds, ‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ From that we take confidence that, first, God is always with and for us, if our trust is in Jesus, and second, because God gave His very best in sending His Son to die for us to take the penalty for our sins, when He died on the cross, there is no end to the good, blessed, and God-honouring things He will give us to live our Christian lives. That promise is for you personally too!
David now concentrates on the feared tsunami of angry and violent enemy opposition which would have swamped and swallowed up His people without God on their side. For the Christian, this applies to the strength of our main opposition from the world, the flesh, the devil, and strong temptations so hard to withstand. Without God the Father as our Father, God the Son as our Saviour, and God the Holy Spirit to strengthen, counsel and help us, we would fail miserably and give up. But our Triune God is always on our side.
(Verses 6-7) Imagine facing a snarling man-eating lion! A friend comes and rescues you. Or think of a bird caught in a snare. A bird-lover breaks the snare and the bird flies away. When God delivers Christians from our spiritual foes, we should praise and thank Him, live for Him, and share His message of forgiveness with many. The Bible has many promises to encourage and help us in such situations. Here is one: ‘No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.’ (1 Corinthians 10:13). That is for you, too!
(Verse 8) Psalm 54:4 says, ‘Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.’ All of His power as Creator is ours!