David, the psalmist King, often reflected on his past only as a reminder of how the Lord had helped him. He used these memories to help him focus on the future with faith and hope in Almighty God.
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side! Let Israel now say—If it had not been the Lord who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive when their wrath was kindled against us. Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,. The stream would have gone over our soul. Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; The snare is broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth. (From Psalm124)
A plot has been devised to destroy every Christian’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, but God has extended His protection, His strength, and His power to His children. David describes this plot as being like a trap set by a bird catcher. It appeared they had trapped us, but by God’s grace the snare was broken, and we escaped. Who broke the snare for us? The Lord! He’s our helper. When the snare is broken, we have to run away from it. (See Psa. 124:7)
One of the most prevalent ways the enemy traps us is getting us to take offense. Jesus said, Offenses will come! We cannot prevent offense from coming. But we’re also told, Great peace have they which love thy law; and nothing causes them to stumble. (Psa.119:165). Whether to take the offense or not is our choice.
The Israelites were offended that God sent them the same food every day. They felt they deserved better. They blamed Him for bringing them out of Egypt—where they were slaves—to this free place where He did the grocery shopping for them every day! I can’t imagine anyone being unhappy about not having to slave in the mud to make bricks while a soldier stood by ready to beat them if they didn’t work fast enough. Yet here they were, complaining. It’s true, they left their homes behind never to be revisited but were also walking away from slavery. Yet rather than seeing their future prosperity, they took an offense toward God, became bitter, and began making their list of demands. What might have happened if they had said, “God we wish you would vary the menu a bit; nevertheless our hearts are full of gratitude that you’re feeding us and we don’t have to make bricks in the hot sun anymore. It’s okay, God. We love you. And we thank You for the manna.” With this attitude, who knows what blessings God might have poured upon them.
Like the Psalmist, I look back over my life and say with conviction, If it had not been the Lord who was on my side, where would I be? I can point to specific times and situations where I realize that nothing or no one except the Lord could have saved me. David comments that men rose up against him and his people to destroy them. I have experienced this. We have all been between a rock and a hard place. We have been pressed into doubting that God really cares at all about us. We have wondered whether He really hears when we cry out to Him. Then we understand the Psalmist’s joyous exclamation: If it had not been the Lord who was on our side… When it looked like an impossible situation, God made a way of escape.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1Cor. 10:13).The word picture here is one of a strong column or pillar that holds up an overpass. In other words, God will strengthen us and uphold us that we may be able to get through the danger zone. Many of God’s people have been on the brink of ruin only to see God intervene miraculously at 11:59 and 59 seconds!
When their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive. Why? Whenever a person allows anger to build up inside, they strike out at their target. They shoot daggers at it. I know how that feels. I’ve not only had to repent of shooting some arrows, but I have been that target! I could literally feel the fiery darts trying to penetrate me. I felt like I was about to drown under the circumstances. The Psalmist understood this feeling well.
The flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. The anger of our enemies, like water, poured over our lives. They were determined to destroy us, our comforts, and all that is dear to us. But remember what God has promised? When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they shall not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; and the flames will not set you ablaze. (Isa.43:2)
Did He not do this for the Israelites as they fled from Egypt? They stood with the Red Sea in front of them and Pharaoh’s army coming upon them from behind. The Lord was on their side! He parted the waters so they could go across on dry land, and then He brought the waters back together to swallow up their enemies. Did He not do this for Daniel? He didn’t escape the lion’s den, but the Lord was in there with him and shut the lion’s mouth so he wasn’t harmed . (see Daniel 6). Did He not do this for Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego ?(see Daniel 3) They did not escape the furnace, but the Lord was in there with them and didn’t allow them to be burned. And most assuredly, He has done that for me! Of course, I would like to have avoided going through the waters and the fires, but with the Lord was on my side, so why should I fear what man could do to me? (Psa. 118:6)
Satan is seeking whom he may devour (1 Pe.5:8). He is a thief and has come to steal our joy, our health, and our assurance of salvation; then he’ll kill us and totally destroy any evidence of our existence. He’s not content to just tear us to pieces; he wants us lost forever! But Blessed be the Lord who is on the side of His children. The victory, my friend, is in our soul! Paul and Silas were in prison and their feet and hands were placed in stocks so they couldn’t move. Their enemies had succeeded in stopping their bodies, but their souls were free! They had escaped the snare of the fowler. They sang praises at midnight when all was dark and looked hopeless. Yes, they sang praises! Those praises broke through the enemy’s territory, and God sent an earthquake and set Paul and Silas free. (see Acts 16). The Lord lives in our praises (Psa. 22:3).
OUR HELP IS IN THE NAME OF THE LORD
Which lord? The Lord who made heaven and earth (Psa.124:8). We may be caught in a situation where we have no helper but God. Rehearse the praises penned by so many who have been where you are. Think about His love. Think about His goodness. His Name is higher than any other. His name is Jesus! Jesus! Oh, how sweet the Name. Jesus! Name above all names. There’s healing in the Name of Jesus. There’s deliverance in the Name of Jesus. There’s victory in the Name of Jesus. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Up to now, we have stepped across many timelines from one day to the next, one week to the next, one year to the next. We remember with the Psalmist, If it had not been the Lord on our side, we would not have been able to walk across the bridge that took us from the edge of one time period to the brink of the next.
When the Israelites stood at the Jordan River and wanted to cross into Canaan Land, they could not look back to their failures. They had to let go of the past and forgive. They had to march forward to the land flowing with milk and honey. As a nation, they had missed the opportunity once, but they determined not to miss it again. The Lord said to them and their leader, Joshua, forget the past, press toward the future. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law… Be strong and of good courage; Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go (Josh 1:9). The Lord is on our side!
We’re at the end of a year that people have been wishing away for months now, and we’re on the brink of a brand-new year. Exactly what lies ahead, no one knows, but everyone hopes sickness, disease, racial conflict, and war will somehow disappear from the scene.
Every day is the edge of a yesterday and the brink of a tomorrow. Every day is a day of decision and choices.
If you are not a child of God, pray now. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your heart. If you have grown weary and fainted in your Christian life, repent. Confess your weaknesses and transgressions to the Lord. Give Him your failures and disappointments, discouragements and defeats of the past. Determine to serve Him with all of your might as long as He gives you life. Follow Jesus. Acknowledge the Holy Spirit as your helper. Be sure you are on His side. Then you will have the assurance that the Lord is on your side and you can say, Whether I live or die, I am the Lord’s I know (Rom. 14:8).
That’s victory! That’s joy! That’s real living! That gives great hope for tomorrow. That’s what I did. Now I look forward to God’s deliverance in the difficult situations of life. He’s the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. He goes before me and comes behind me. Everywhere I am, He is. He is the foundation upon which I build. He is the Author and Finisher of my faith. I am the apple of His eye. I am engraved in the palm of His hand.