WE SHALL OVERCOME
Holy Spirit, prepare my heart and mind to receive new understanding and new insights from Your Word today.
Read PSALM 129
A song of ascents.
1 “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,”
let Israel say;
2 “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
3 Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
4 But the Lord is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”
5 May all who hate Zion
be turned back in shame.
6 May they be like grass on the roof,
which withers before it can grow;
7 a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
nor one who gathers fill his arms.
8 May those who pass by not say to them,
“The blessing of the Lord be on you;
we bless you in the name of the Lord.”
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.
Let this passage remind us of the difficulties of the journey of faith, even as it assures us of God’s presence and deliverance.
The opening phrase ‘from my youth’ must not mislead us into imagining that this is a personal lament in which an individual reviews his past life. It is Israel’s history as a people that is here likened to the stages of human existence, so that the reference to oppression from the earliest stages recalls the early history of this people in the bondage of slavery in Egypt. The psalmist knows that this pattern of oppression has been continuously repeated as a small, vulnerable people were constantly threatened by alien powers possessing military might and contemptuous of Israel’s faith in the Lord.
Yet, however persistent and powerful the oppressing forces were, ‘they have not gained the victory’ (v 2). The life history of this people was one of continuous struggle, of constant external threats, or, as one commentator describes it, ‘one single passion narrative’.1 The phrase reminds us of Jesus, whose own life story embodied this same struggle, even unto death. In His case, however, we may exclaim with overflowing joy the truth that the powers of darkness ‘have not gained the victory’ (v 2)!
If the historical pattern of suffering and victory described in this psalm foreshadows the experience of the Messiah, does it not also suggest that this will be the path of faith for all who follow Jesus? As John Bunyan expressed it: ‘He who would valiant be / ’gainst all disaster, / let him in constancy / follow the Master. / There’s no discouragement / shall make him once relent / his first avowed intent / to be a pilgrim.’
This psalm is a Jewish prayer. Jews have known oppression and hatred throughout history. Take time to pray for Jewish people, especially those facing anti-Semitism today.
Lord Jesus, when I read this passage, I am reminded that You presented Your back to smiters, and by Your wounds and stripes I am saved and healed. Thank You Lord.
1 Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 60–150, Augsburg Press, 1989, p462 2 Percy Dearmer, based on John Bunyan, The English Hymnal