Psalm 124 – The Message Paraphrase
- A pilgrim song of David. If God hadn’t been for us – all together now, Israel, sing out! –
- If God hadn’t been for us when everyone went against us,
- We would have been swallowed alive by their violent anger,
- Swept away by the flood of rage, drowned in the torrent;
- We would have lost our lives in the wild raging water.
- Oh, blessed be God! He didn’t go off and leave us. He didn’t abandon us defenseless, helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs.
- We’ve flown free from their fangs, free of their traps, free as a bird. Their grip is broken; we’re free as a bird in flight.
- God’s strong name is our help, the same God who made heaven and earth.
I love this psalm because it reminds me of times when I thought circumstances were going to eat me alive or drown me, but God reached down and pulled me up to safety. There haven’t been a lot of times, unlike David, were I have been physically threatened with harm by others. But there have been a lot of times when I have literally felt the hands of demons from hell trying to rip my life apart. That is where our biggest threat lies. Ephesians 6: 12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
Beth states that Satan often uses other people to work his evil against us. She says,
Our toughest challenges most often involve people rather than circumstances. . . . We must let God open our eyes wide to the reality that we have a powerful enemy who – let me say this clearly – absolutely hates us.
Why does he hate us? Because we have what he can never have again – a relationship with God. He hates us because God loves us. He hates us because, just when he thought he had control over us and this world, God had to go and screw up his plan by sending Jesus – the WORD made flesh – to totally change the game through His resurrection and victory over death and hell. To use a really bad chess analogy, the resurrection of Jesus made all God’s pieces queens and all of Satan’s pieces pawns. He is in check, and he knows it. Nothing he can do will result in victory. So until God finally decides to end the game, he is going to try to get away with as much as possible. Beth says:
Satan hatefully attacks us because he can’t touch God. The closest he can come to hurting God is to hurt one of His children. Zechariah 2:8 says whoever touches one of God’s children touches the apple of His eye. God will overlook an attack against you about as readily as He would overlook someone repeatedly poking Him in the eye.
I love Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness. There is a whole world around us that we cannot see right now. If we could, we would probably all have heart attacks and be saying hi to God. The Bible teaches us that demons and angels are warring over us all the time. Once we get to heaven and see what REALLY happened all around us during our lives – well, it will be a good thing we are already on our knees. I don’t even want to think about where I might be if the Lord had not been for me.
Regardless of how long we’ve been Christians and how deeply we’ve studied God’s Word, most of us don’t really believe down in the marrow of our bones that God is entirely, wholeheartedly, and unwaveringly on our side.
I know that was me. Like Beth said, I didn’t necessarily feel that God was against me, just that He wasn’t for me. He tolerated me. I guess most of these feelings came from running into walls every time things in my life (job, finances, relationships) began looking up. There is one paragraph Beth put in this lesson that I have highlighted, underlined, and put big old stars beside.
I’m hammering the point because I’d like to suggest that in our humanity we tend to determine whether God is against us, for us, or tolerating us based on how He appears to act in our circumstances. In other words, our litmus test for whether we think God is really for us is circumstantial evidence. If I don’t get the promotion, God was for the other guy. If the relationship doesn’t work out, God didn’t root for me. If the cancer treatment doesn’t take, I’m not a high priority to Him.
Ouch. That really hit home. It goes along with the thinking that bad things happen as a result of something we did or didn’t do – a punishment, perhaps. While this can be true in some cases, most often, it is not. Beth says, “God . . . knows when something glorious in the future necessitates something difficult in the present. Because He knows the glory will be worth it, God will risk being misunderstood.”
God is not against me.
God does not just tolerate me.
God is on my side because He chooses to be.
God is always and forever FOR me.
My Psalm 124:
If God hadn’t been looking out for me – I will say it again! – if God hadn’t been looking out for me when my life was in turmoil, I would have been eaten alive with worry, swept away in a flood of fear and anxiety, drowned in despair; I would have lost everything I had worked so hard for. Praise God!! He did not abandon me! He did not leave me to fight the battle alone. He set me free from the traps of the enemy, made a way for me to escape unscathed. My help came from God, ruler of all.