Sunday, March 6, 2016 pm                                    Psalms Index


If it had Not Been the Lord On our Side
Psalm 124


We continue to examine the psalms of ascents (120-134), believed to have been sung as Israelites journeyed toward Jerusalem for the various feasts.  Some interesting features of this psalm are:
1) We know it was written by David.  It seems like many of these psalms were written much later (dates unknown) and they were adapted for the purpose of the journey – some new and some old (like the songs we sing).  They selected a few psalms of David in this group.
2) Vs. 1 & 2 repeat.  Two possibilities to me – 1) Vs. 1 is the title of the psalm or 2) The leader sang and the audience responded.

It is a psalm of deliverance for God’s people.  Only 8 verses and 2 thoughts.

 I.                     If the LORD had not been on our side (1-5)

a.       The LORD is on our side – this is the declaration the psalmist begins with. 

                                                   i.      What does that expression mean?  God is with us.  In its fullest extent it means there is nothing God cannot do for His people.   
ONE of the benefits in studying the Old Testament (cf. Romans 15:4), is how we see the power of God at work.  It is found throughout scripture.
He was with Abraham always – from the promise in Genesis 12:1-3 where He promised to bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him.
Joseph in Egypt – studying his life in the latter part of Genesis you find a series of events that saved Israel’s heritage and protected Joseph.
Moses – Exodus 3:12 – He told Moses, “I will certainly be with you…”
Joshua and Caleb – Num. 14:9, as the people listened to the cowardly majority of spies (10 of them), Joshua and Caleb strive to encourage the people to go forward.  They say of the land, “their protection has departed from the, and the LORD is with us.  Do not fear them.”
David vs. Goliath,
Elijah vs. the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah – 1 Kings 18.
Numerous times in the prophets where the LORD promises deliverance of those who turn to Him – Isaiah 41:10 - “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you…”
Haggai 1:14 – speaking as the LORD’s messenger, Haggai told the people, “I am with you, says the LORD.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – Daniel 3:16-18, “our God is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from you hand, O king.  But if not, let it be known to you, O King, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set us.
Daniel delivered from the lion’s den – Daniel 6.  Realizing his rash edict, the king commands Daniel to be put in the lion’s den but he says, “Your God, whom you serve continually, He will deliver you.” (Dan. 6:16)  And He did!
Even in the New Testament - Peter was delivered from death by an angel – Acts 12.
All these are spectacular deliverances.  While God may not intervene today in the same way (not because He can’t, but because of His will) do not underestimate His ability to deliver us.

                                                 ii.      From time to time we need to remind ourselves that God is for us: 

1.       Romans 8:31 – if God is for us, who can be against us?

2.       Romans 8:37 tells us, “Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

3.       Matthew 28:20 – Jesus, “I am with you always…”

4.       Hebrews 13:5-6, the assurance that He will never leave nor forsake us.  Therefore with boldness we can say, “the Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6)

5.       1 John 4:4, He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world (cf. John 14:30 – where Jesus said of Satan, “he has nothing in Me.” 

                                                iii.      Beware of false assumptions.  Consider this: How many today – nationally or in some given situation say that the reason things worked out in their favor was “the Lord is on our side”?    Like the idolatrous nations of old, they thought that victory in battle or good crops meant their gods showed favor on them.  They were wrong!  There is only ONE TRUE God.  He lets His sun shine on the good and evil alike – Matthew 5:45.
LISTEN, America is NOT a “Christian nation”!  Such does not exist!
Sometimes as individuals, we may see prosperity and whatever good happens and the hand of God in our favor.  That IS the message of the FALSE health & wealth gospel of Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn and myriads of other charlatans.  The godly have always wondered why the wicked prosper (cf. Psalm 2:1-3, Acts 4:24-25).
Perhaps there are times we can look back and see the hand of God at work, but at other times we are just not sure.   My point is that just because you are doing well materially, does NOT mean that God is on your side!  Consider the rich, young ruler!

                                                iv.      But who IS on His side?  He who obey His will. 
  Psalm 24:3-4 – who will ascend to the presence of God? Also consider Psalm 15.
1 John 3:24, “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
He denies himself, takes up his cross and follows Him – Luke 9:23.
He seeks first the kingdom of God – Matthew 6:33
In summary, it is he who is on the Lord’s side!

                                                  v.      Regardless we still give Him the glory.   Cf.  Shadrach,… Dan. 3:18 – we will NOT bow down to your gods.

b.       When men rose up they would have been overwhelmed (2b-5) – swallowed alive with their wrath kindled “against us.”    Waters would flood over our souls – perhaps meaning we perish (in this life) or our spirits and will and our hopes are crushed.    There are several descriptions in these verses of complete devastation.    The exact events addressed we don’t know – some see it as God’s deliverance through the Red Sea or other similar occasions.  Pra
Written by David, some see it as David overcoming the Philistines (2 Samuel 5:17-25).  After being anointed king, the Philistines seek to attack Israel (recall that prior to this David had fled to the land of the Philistines for shelter).  As the LORD permits, David goes against them and defeats them.  He specifically asks, “Will You deliver them into my hand?”  The LORD responds, “Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

c.        Let us remember this when we feel overwhelmed.  We are clearly living in uncertain times.  It seems the world is against God and the godly – and they are.  Things could continue to get worse and worse and make it so that it seems impossible for us to be delivered.   BUT, we must not forget that God is in control!   As God’s word tells us, we find many who are enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18-20, but our citizenship is in heaven. (21)  2 Tim. 3:13 warns that evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse.
TRUE faith is a calm spirit when faced with the most troubling of circumstances.  Proverbs 29:25, “The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”

 II.                   Our Help is in the Name of the LORD (6-8)

a.       BUT, blessed be the LORD – praise Him – always.   A recurring theme in the psalms is one’s desire to praise God regardless of the times.  
Snares are traps – the devil lays snares before us – 2 Cor. 2:11. Just as Satan tempted Jesus, so we face temptations.   But we can face up to the temptations and troubles and become stronger in defeating them – James 1:2-4, Romans 5:3-5.  We must use the word of God as Jesus did.
Floods are things that overwhelm us – sometimes it is the enemy (nations, person enemies, etc.) as we have seen in this lesson.  But other times we are overwhelmed with negative emotions – depression, discouragement, doubt, fear, guilt, sadness, etc.   This can overwhelm us if we are not careful and if we do not address them. 
While the answer to such things is not always easy, the answer is NOT to give up!  We have to press on (Phil. 3:12-14). 

b.       He has delivered us – not given us as prey to the teeth of the enemy.
Our soul escaped as a bird from the trap, having broken the snare.  While the term “deliver” is not used, we find that when we put our trust in God we find true deliverance!   It may not be a deliverance from troubles in this life, but in the end God will deliver His people.  AND at times, even in this world we find victory.  Consider the following passages:

                                                   i.      Matt. 6:13 we pray to Him for deliverance from the evil one

                                                 ii.      Rom. 6:17 – we have been delivered from sin

                                                iii.      2 Co. 1:9-10 – Paul trusted in God who had delivered them from so great a death and still delivers us

                                                iv.      Colossians 1:13 – delivered from the powers of darkness

                                                  v.      2 Thess. 3:1-2 Paul requests prayers that they be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men

                                                vi.      2 Timothy 3:10-11 – Paul delivered him out of various persecutions

                                              vii.      2 Tim. 4:17-18 – even when alone, Paul knew the Lord stood with him and he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 

                                             viii.      2 Peter 2:9 – He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation

c.        Our help is in the name of the LORD who made heaven and earth – this is a concluding declaration.  It is a declaration of trust in Him! 


And thus we see another psalm.  We are again reminded of the deliverance we find when we put our trust in Him.  What about you?  Where is your trust?