Read Psalm 124
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 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.
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.”
- What are the things of this world that make you feel overwhelmed today?
- According to Psalm 124, what can we proclaim when feeling overwhelmed by the world’s brokenness?
- 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?
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