God on Our Side
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46,47).
Read PSALM 124
1 If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
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
from 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.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
If our help comes from the God who created all things (8), what chance do our spiritual enemies have?
I am not keen on the translation, “If the Lord had not been on our side” (1,2, italics added), as it seems to assume that God approves of “us” but opposes “them.” In reality, this psalm carries a more nuanced approach. Like Hosea, the psalmist knows that to be for us, God must sometimes take sides against us! Furthermore, that God is with us in no way precludes his being with others at times. While we can’t be certain because of
the obscure Hebrew construction, the translation could have read, “If the Lord had not been for us” or “if the Lord had not been ours.”
The psalm does not celebrate ease but rescue. It articulates potentially dire circumstances that have not ultimately overwhelmed the psalmist and his
community. God’s people are not immune from suffering, but herein lies an assertion that suffering will not enjoy the last word. Further, the psalmist emphasizes not the people but their God. “If we were serving an imagined god or some idol,” the psalmist seems to say, “then we would not have been
rescued.” This is very much in keeping with the message of Hosea. Gods of our own making, whether of silver or gold, are powerless to save us. “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (8).
Finally, the astounding imagery of the bird set free from the snare reminds me that Sundays are our weekly remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus. On the dark Friday of Christ’s crucifixion, it looked to all the world that God was not “for” Jesus. Yet on Sunday morning, Jesus came bounding from the grave. This is glorious good news, for he who was raised from death offers eternal rescue for all who put their trust in him.
What enemies, external or internal, does God want you to be rescued from? Do you need to take responsibility for your own freedom? Is God calling you to help someone?
Lord, thank You for watching over Your people and keeping us free from all spiritual and physical snares.
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