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God on His people's side (Psalms 124) February 11-12

Psalm 124, the second song of ascents of the second set of three, expresses trust in God-acknowledging Him as the reason for Israel's survival. This is the second of four songs of ascents attributed to King David.

David encourages national participation in this hymn with the formula "Let Israel now say" (verse 1; compare 118:2; 129:1). The repeated opening statement "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side…" (verses 1-2) takes as a given that God had been on their side. Indeed, God is on the side of His people. This was historically true for Israel, just as it is for spiritual Israel-God's Church. Being on the side of His people does not mean that God endorses everything that they do, as they stumble and sin. The sense here is of being with them, supporting them. God works with His people to guide them, help them and ultimately save them-often against antagonists who try to thwart them. In a powerful New Testament parallel, the apostle Paul remarks, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).

Without God's aid, the enemies of His people, in both the physical and spiritual realm, would have swallowed them up (Psalm 124:2-3)-in the metaphoric senses of a flood running over them (verses 4-5) and of predatory wild animals devouring them (verse 6). David used such flood imagery in other psalms for threats and persecution (18:16; 32:6; 69:1-2; compare also Job 27:20; Revelation 12:15-16). And he elsewhere compares persecution to being attacked by lions (Psalms 7:1-2; 10:8-11; 57:4).

Yet God has given deliverance, seen also in the figure of a bird escaping the fowler's snare-the trap of a bird trapper (compare 91:3). The Zondervan Student Bible comments: "Some trouble is quick-bang and it's over…but with other trouble, trying to escape only gets you more deeply entangled…if you try to undo the damage, you only make it worse. That's exactly the picture of 'the fowler's snare.' The bird that caught its neck in the noose only tightened the snare's choke-hold by struggling. The bird could not get out by its own effort. But this time, says David, the snare has miraculously broken, and the bird has flown to safety. When you escape that way, there's only one person to thank: the Lord" (note on verse 7).

Indeed, the past deliverance on which the song reflects is the basis for continued trust in the help of the Almighty Creator God-the One who made heaven and earth (verse 8; compare 121:2; 134:3). This confidence is essential for our journey to God's Kingdom.

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