Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 124

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Read Psalm 124

A song of ascents. Of David.

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.

Go Deeper

Some days, the brokenness of this world seems too much to bear. Too much hate, too much pain, too much loss, too much conflict…it can all feel like just too much. This is not a new condition for humankind and will not be an old condition until the eternal restoration of heaven on earth. So what are we supposed to do in the meantime? How do we cope with the chaos and conflict?

David and the people of Israel offer guidance in Psalm 124. The nation of Israel understood conflict. They endured pain and loss (see enslavement in Egypt and the aftermath in Exodus). They had been at war with their neighbors for generations and had kings in conflict with each other (see 1 and 2 Samuel). They lived in fear of famine, invasion, and deadly illness daily. Yet, they sang Psalm 124.

This psalm begins with an introduction and call to community worship. Can’t you hear the piano’s low and slow start of melody as the worship leader steps to the microphone and gratefully sings “If the Lord had not been on our side…” Everyone knows this song; we were raised on it, sang it at church camp, heard our grandparents sing it, and the intro ushers all the trials, triumphs, and trust in God that comes from His faithfulness to bring us through the brokenness of this world. The tears swell in our eyes and the peace pours over us as we let go of controlling the things of this world and grab hold of the joy of the Lord that can come only from the Holy Spirit.

“Let all of Israel say” the worship leader calls to us. This is not an isolated request; it is a group effort to share the stories, claim the promises, and demonstrate the Holy Spirit to a tired and broken nation. This is a call to us when this world is too much. The psalm describes how God saved Israel from the perils of this world. It ends with the joint proclamation, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” May we find peace and comfort in making this same proclamation together with our community, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”


  1. What are the things of this world that make you feel overwhelmed today?
  2. According to Psalm 124, what can we proclaim when feeling overwhelmed by the world’s brokenness?
  3. Psalm 124 is a community worship song for Israel to remind them of God’s care for them. What worship song reminds you of God’s care?

Listen Here

Spend some time today listening to songs of worship that reflect the message of Psalm 124 with this playlist on Spotify.

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6 thoughts on “Psalms of Ascent: Psalm 124”

  1. David reminds us that the enemy’s attacks, or flares of anger, floods, torrents, raging waters or the fowler’s snare is no match for our God. He speaks from experience, as time after time God has been his deliverer. God is on our side! Weary travelers once sang this song as they journeyed to Jerusalem; today we each have our personal struggles and will encounter others with challenges. Let’s bless the Lord in the midst of it all as the one who knows the number of hairs on our heads, the same who is our very, present help in time of need.

  2. Vs. 8 Our help is in the name of Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth. There is a contingency upon this, you must believe. God is faithful period, the end, it is we who are fickle. He has always had THE plan and it works for good to those who love Him and follow it. (Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,8 for those who are called according to his purpose.) I just read that the goal of faithfulness is not that we will do work for God, but that He will be free to do His work through us!!! We are called to into His service to be a servant of worship, glory, honor, loving, believing, kingdom minded person who loves the Lord God with all our heart soul mind and strength as we love and share the gospel with our neighbors. Putting Him first and doing these things will make what ever obstacles seem less important. We are in a battle, but vs 8 breath in Ya, breath out weh!!

    God thank You for just being able to literally breath You, in Ya, out weh!! I will not be anxious for NO-THING but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving I will let You know God my requests. Breathing is such a calming way to get un-anxious, but speaking Your name in those breathes make all right with the universe. God thank You for these minutes of this day, that You are in the middle of each one. Thank You for Your peace and Your name being on my lips in Jesus name amen.

  3. I know we live in a broken world, it’s so easy to see with a cursory glance around us. It’s even easier to let it wear us down and cause us to feel alone and lost. But God! He never lets us be destroyed. Instead He is on our side. Verse 8 reminds us that our help is in the name of the Lord – I will remain rooted in this reminder today as I go out into the world.

  4. What a beautifully written commentary and playlist, thank you.

    As I went back and read the beginning of David’s degrees starting with Psalm 120, I noticed how intimately they began in verse 1. David begins his songs with account to himself personally, but today I read the full transition into a community —“our”.
    Psalm 121 noted “my help” (v 2); Psalm 124 notes “our help” (v 8). My lesson from David is that strength in a community begins at an individual level.

    The song “My Help” came to mind this morning.

  5. Today’s study is such a great reminder that when it feels like the worries of this world is literally swallowing us whole, the Lord remains the one and only help for us. He is the one to walk us through those difficult times. Apart from him we are nothing. Thank you Jesus for your faithfulness and for being the light in this world of darkness. 🙌🏼

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