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If …

If the Lord had not been on our side — let Israel say — if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us, they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us; the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. Praise be to the Lord, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. Psalm 124.

In the Hebrew Bible, this was a communal song chanted by pilgrims as the made their way up from the valley to the temple in Jerusalem to attend one of the three pilgrim festivals (Deuteronomy 16.16) – a Song of Ascents. We even have in the first verse of this psalm the instruction from the cantor who led the singing for the pilgrims to join in – ‘let Israel say’ – and to echo in verse two the words that he has just sung – ‘If The Lord had not been on our side.’ But the song itself is attributed to David and consists of his reflections on the dark days when he had just become king but was very nearly toppled from his throne and his kingdom destroyed by the Philistines (2 Samuel 5.17-25).

‘If The Lord had not been on our side …’

How those words resonate for me this morning as I look back over my own life … bombing raids as I was being carried in the womb, double pneumonia in childhood, a failed first marriage, a wrecked career, a nervous breakdown, crushing debt, heart attacks and major surgery ….

‘If The Lord had not been on our side …’

Maybe we will all find that we have good reason to repeat those words if we pause for a moment and look back on our lives and trace our story from our childhood to the present day. Perhaps we have all faced situations which seemed set to swallow us alive, or engulf us, or sweep us away, or tear us to pieces, or put us in cage and throw away the key – all incredibly powerful images that David uses here to describe the catastrophes that await us in life – but we have all been rescued. The Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth has come to our rescue. And it is good to reflect … What if he hadn’t?

‘If The Lord had not been on our side …’

Doesn’t your heart just flood with thanksgiving as you look back this morning on all the ‘near misses’ of your life? David’s did – ‘Praise be to the Lord’ – and mine certainly does so too.

But maybe this morning you are not in that place. Maybe this morning you are actually not looking back on but confronting a potential disaster – some crisis or catastrophe that threatens to destroy you. If you are, then take courage, for it is not only true that the Lord has been on our side: The Lord is on our side. The Maker of heaven and earth is already in combat and fighting for you today.

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One comment on “If …

  1. micey says:

    Thanks for the reminder!

    Like

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