When I was in school. There was the lunch phenomenon of the sports game. And not having fixed teams, it was always the case that you had to get into teams before you started the game.
Sometimes the teams were pretty fair and evenly matched. At other times, it would be entirely stacked with the good players on the one team and the not so good on the other. If you ended on the less than skilled team, you knew that the score wasn’t going to end in your favour. You were in for a loss.
And it’s something like this for the church in the world. It can seem like all the good players are on the others team. We can feel outmatched. Outgunned. Out everythinged. We’ve never been a majority. The church can seem so weak…And it often is.
I think it’s our experience as well as a church plant in the Launceston area, that we are in the minority. When we look at ourselves we don’t look very impressive at all. As Christians, we can seem out numbered. Out gunned. Out everything. The enemies of Jesus can seem like their winning.
This is the feeling that David wants Israel, and us, to experience through the words of this Psalm. A sense that in and of ourselves, we aren’t that impressive. We are helpless. And small. But the good news is… when you have God on your side… it’s a one person team. You don’t need any other players. However large the enemies of Jesus might be, however a bad situation we might find ourselves in, with God our side, the victory is won.
If the Lord had not been on our side—
let Israel say—
2 if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive
when their anger flared against us;
4 the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,
5 the raging waters
would have swept us away.
6 Praise be to the Lord,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
David wrote this Psalm with the concern that God’s would recognise that the LORD is the one who had save them time and time again.
The thing is… when you get out of a messy situation, when you come through a trouble, it’s easy to downplay just how bad the situation actually was. It’s also easy to take the credit, to think that it’s our own ingenuity and cleverness that gets us through. It’s easy to not recognise the LORD’s hand.
David wants Israel, he wants to bring home to them, to recognise that it’s not them that saved themselves from their enemies, but it was only and could only have been the LORD.
In Psalm 124, David makes it very clear that these enemies weren’t just annoying. They aren’t just a nuisance, or making idle threats. No, rather, by graphic language, we find that they were a real, very real, danger to them
You know, the church has been attacked in many times and in many places. From governments, kings, presidents, empires, religious or not religious people, and so on. The church of Jesus, in some parts of the world today, is under immense pressure from enemies of Christ and almost to the verge of destruction.
Take for example the church in Iran… today there are people are being arrested and imprisoned for being members of an “illegal organisations”. That is, they are part of a church. The church in many places, is small and under threat of being overwhelmed.
This Psalm speaks into this situation. The word pictures in this Psalm are meant to show us that the danger is real. The church of Jesus has enemies. And there is a great enemy. The evil one, the devil, Satan.
But see what the Psalm writer is saying there? The LORD is on their side.
IF the LORD hadn’t been on their side, then all these things would have happened.
If not for the LORD, THEN they would have been swallowed alive.
If not for the LORD, THEN the flood would have run over them.
If not for the LORD, THEN the raging waters would engulf them.
Time and again, the LORD has looked after God’s people, protected them, been their security, every single time. The LORD was, and is, and will be on our side as his people.
And don’t we see this in the life of Jesus?
Jesus broke the snare of the devil, he broke free from the grave. He who was slain is victorious.
Praise the LORD, because he breaks snares.
Praise the LORD because he cares for his people.
Praise the LORD because he looks after us.
We can confidently say verse 8 “Our help is in the name of the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth.”
Friends, with God as our help, there will be a glorious deliverance.
The Maker of heaven and earth is in full control over the people he has made.
The God who has revealed his name to us. He is a personal God, he has made himself know to us in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. He shows us what he’s like, his attributes, what he loves. And we know him.
Our help is in the name of this God.