Psalm 124

This is the fifth of the Songs of Degrees.
The occasion is not known.
But David had many experiences that would have caused him to write such a personal song.
This would not only express his feeling to the Lord, but it would also express
the sentiment of all Israel.
This would be an expression of all who are seeking the Lord and who are making their ascent to God.

As Christians there are numerous opportunities for us to experience the realness of this Psalm
and for us to sing this song.

There are 15 Songs of Degrees, and this fifth one seems to gather up and sum up the
four preceding ones.
The preceding four songs constitute one section - the first of three sections.
This initial section represents the initial stage of our spiritual life -- the stage of purification.

As we move forward and make our way step by step and degree by degree upwards
towards a full union with God, we, like the pilgrim in these songs, discover
how God is our Helper, our Leader, our Protector, and our Guide.

We also learn how God disciplines us and chastens us for our good.
We also begin to enjoy happy fellowship and companionship with our brothers and sisters
because we find there are many others who are likeminded and are making their ascent also.

As we go through these various experiences, there will come a point in our path
when we can look back and say with that pilgrim soul:
"The Lord has been for us; the Lord has been on our side; and it is good."

When we read this song in that light, we can see how Psalm 124 gathers up
all the past experiences which have occurred during this initial stage of purification.

At the present moment the soul is inside the temple.
The soul is inside the house of God.
This was not the case in the first song when the pilgrim was outside the promised land.
He was in an alien place.
He was not abiding in Christ.

In the second song he discovered that God was his Helper,
and in Psalm 121 he discovered that God was his Keeper.
In Psalm 122 he has made it to the gates of Jerusalem and experiences
happy fellowship with the saints of God.

Because of this new position and relationship, he has a better vision
of what Jerusalem is and what the church is.

By Psalm 123 the soul has made his way into the court of God.
Although he is still at a distance, he is only in the outer court and not in the holiest of all,
he can lift up his gaze to the throne of God.
He can now wait upon the Lord and recognize that the Lord is merciful and gracious towards him

In this fifth song, we find this seeking soul is in the temple and is in the house of God.
He is in fellowship with God.
As he is having fellowship with God, his mind goes back to where he has been.
He mentally retraces the steps of his advancement from the worldly and carnal realm
to the heavenly and spiritual sphere.
He has gone through so much to be here, and he has much of which to be thankful.

He recalls the past mercies of God.
He recalls the past deliverances of God.
As he recalls he begins to worship and praise God:
"If it had not been the Lord who was on our side..." (Verse 1)

He proclaims that it is the Lord who has brought him through.
He knows that this is the only explanation for his being where he is now.
This is the sentiment of this Psalm:
"If it had not been the lord who was on our side, now may Israel say,
' If it had not been the Lord who was on our side
.' " (Verses 1,2)

"If" in this verse is not conditional; it is emphatic.
In other words the Lord is for us.
Therefore, we have escaped.
We are delivered.
The Lord is for us.
Therefore, we are here. Hallelujah!

The Lord is for us!

As we pass through many experiences, this becomes even more precious, that God is on our side.
If God be for us, who can be against us? (Rom. 8:31-39)

Why is it imperative that God be for us?
Simply because there is someone against us.
"If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us."
(Verse 2)

It is vitally important that God is for us; otherwise, we would become undone
whenever men rise up against us.
The Lord Jesus warned us when He prayed to the Father:
"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them,
because they are not of the world
." (John 17:14)
The world always rises up to persecute those who dare to leave it.
We do not belong to the world.

Thank God, He has placed a power within us that we have to help us.
That unlimited force is the love of Christ.
That power enables us to break from the world.
His love is all powerful.

Do you sense the Lord's love?

If His love constrains you, you will find that nothing can hold you back.
You are free.
Nothing in the world can hold you down.
You are free in Christ. (Rom. 1,2)

"If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us; (Verse 2)
Then they had swallowed us up alive, when their wrath was kindled against us
." (Verse 3)

In this and succeeding verses the Psalmist is attempting to communicate
to us what the world is like.
Often, we are deceived by the world.
We do not know what it really is.
The Psalmist, tries by the use of the figures of speech, to unfold to us
the true nature of men and the world and how they, if provoked, will deal with the children of God.

He likens the world to three things in this short Psalm.

First, he likens the world to a wild animal, a carnivorous beast which will swallow its prey alive.

Does this come as a shock to you?
The world is compared to a beast.
The wrath of men is like a savage -- an uncontrollable animal.
It is so covetous that it doesn't have the patience to chew you.
Instead, it wants to swallow you!

Let's recognize the world for what it is.

But, thank God, the Lord is on our side.
If the Lord is for us, the world cannot swallow us.
No matter how hard it may try, it cannot swallow us.

In the second place, the world is likened to a flood:
"Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the torrent had gone over our soul:
Then the proud waters had gone over our soul
." (Verses 4,5)

Have you ever witnessed a flood?
Some in our congregation have.
When flash flooding comes, homes and people are swept away without a warning.
Then it quickly subdues and carries everything away as it sweeps along. The world is like that.
Have you ever experienced the world as a flood?

You may think you are safe.
You may imagine that all is normal, but the very next moment you find that you are submerged.
The world is like that.

Thank God, that when the adversary shall come in like a flood,
the Spirit of God rises up a banner against him. (Isa 59:19)

The Lord is our banner and the world cannot carry us away.
The Lord and only the Lord can withstand the flood.
Our Lord has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

In the third place, the Psalmist likens the world to a flower's net:
"Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the flowers:
the snare is broken, and we are escaped

A flower is one who attempts to catch birds by whatever device he may employ.
He has several ways of capturing them.
Sometimes he does so with a net.
Under the net he places some food.
As soon as the bird swoops down upon the food,
the snare or net quickly closes and the bird is caught.
There is no way of escape.

In the same way the world tempts us with some of its little delights in order to
ensnare our soul, and we are caught.

But the Lord is for us.
He breaks the net and sets us free.
We are set at liberty.
The Lord does for us what we cannot do.

So David looks back upon his past life and his many experiences in the world,
and proclaims that the Lord is for him.
Therefore, he can stand in the house of God and proclaim:
"My help is in the name of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth." (Verse 8)

It is just as true today.
We cannot do it, but He can and He will!

"If God is for us, who can be against us!"

Prepared by Dr. Harold L. White