- Renée Coventry
God: Our Rescuer! Ps. 124
Yesterday, we recognized our need to individually lift our eyes to the throne, as well as corporately. However, we ended on a rather strange note – the feelings that were consuming the Children of Israel regarding how the sins of others affected them. Their feelings were those of deep trial and pain. Yet when we look to God's throne, we cannot remain in a realm that elevates our senses above the truth of who God is, and this next Psalm explains how we ascend above our emotions to enter God's presence.
"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 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.
Look at this! When our hearts fill with negative emotion towards those who persecute and revile us, the pattern of the Children of Israel is remembrance. They recall what God has done previously. This is a wonderful example of why we should be students of the Word. If we had stopped at Psalm 123, we would not understand that while there is a time and place for pouring our hearts out to the LORD, our hearts should then be filled with gratitude and praise for the faithfulness of God!
I love the imagery of this Psalm. It describes the human condition so well and the emotions that engulf us. At one time or another, we have all felt consumed by the circumstances in which we find ourselves. We've all experienced the anger of others that seemingly acts like a raging inferno that refuses to be extinguished. We've all felt overwhelmed by danger, violence, or transitory things that appear to be an uncontrollable stream, turbulent and churning, attempting to drown us in bitterness. It hurts – deeply. But the beautiful thing that this Psalm recognizes is the God is on our side!
The Apostle Paul recounts this tremendous hope that we have in God in Romans 8:31-39.
"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 over 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 will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'For Your 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, no principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The Apostle Paul reminds us that whatever situation we find ourselves in, God has refused to give us over to those that would destroy us – whether principalities or powers. While we may experience tribulation (and Scripture promises we will), God has not given us over to our enemy to be consumed. This includes the traps that the enemy sets for us. Even when we are the prey of agents of calamity, God frees us from every snare. "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)
The Children of Israel end by acknowledging that God's very Name is what brings them help. Many authors emphasize this throughout the New Testament. For example, in Peter's address in Acts 2:38-39a, Peter admonishes the people, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off." Again, Acts 4:12 states, "And there is salvation in no one else [referring to Jesus Christ]; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved." And Romans 10:12-13 records, "There is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for 'Whoever will call on the name of the LORD will be saved.' (Quoting Joel 2:32).
There is power in the Name of Jesus! Just as the Children of Israel recognized that God was their help, we, too, understand that our salvation and help come in the person of Christ Jesus alone. There is no other name, and what a wonderful Name it is! Nothing can separate us from His love! When we repent and deal with the sin in our lives, Christ redeems us, breaking every chain the enemy would use to hold us captive! What a beautiful promise that enables us to continue our ascent in accessing the presence of Almighty God.