# 357 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 124. If God is for us, who can be against us?

In 1 Samuel 31 we read of the death of King Saul when he and his army were fighting their enemies, the Philistines. The next thing we read is in 2 Samuel 2 that David has been made king over Judah in Saul’s place, but it takes some time before he is finally crowned king over all Israel. We then read in 2 Samuel 5:3 that the people anointed David king over Israel.

But if you think that they all “lived happily ever after” following this then you would be wrong. Why? Because the Philistines had other plans! They had defeated Saul and only David was now in their way to enable them to stay in control of the lands they had conquered. This was a very dangerous time for God’s people!

We read in 2 Samuel 5 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him [with the aim of killing him] (v. 17). And again, Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim [to wage war] (v. 22).

 The NIV Study Bible, comments, “The Philistines had not been disturbed by David’s reign over Judah, but now they acted to protect their interests in the north, much of which they dominated after the defeat of Saul.”

Commenting on this song of ascents. Of David, Kidner writes:

“As a psalm of David, this gives us a rare insight into the early peril of his kingdom, particularly from the Philistines, who had thought to see the last of Israel when they shattered the kingdom of Saul. 2 Samuel 5:17ff. shows how serious the threat was, and how little confidence David placed in his own power to survive it. This was no mere raid to gain territory: it was meant to put an end to David and the hope of Israel.” (# 29)

With this background information, let us now read this amazing Psalm 124 as follows:

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.

I think you will agree that what this psalm describes as when people attacked us (v. 2),
could have been a possible total disaster, IF, as the psalmist writes the Lord had NOT been on our side (vv. 1-2)

He goes on to describe how bad it could have been by comparing the enemies to the raging sea with the words that they would have swallowed us alive (v. 3), or would have engulfed us (v. 4) or even would have swept us away (v. 5).

But of course, these bad things did not happen, and the only reason being that the Lord had … been on the side of His people and protected them from the enemy.

He then changes his metaphor of this experience to being hunted by an angry wild beast and is grateful that God has not let us be torn by their teeth (v. 6). He is thankful that they have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare and that the snare has been broken, and we have escaped (v. 7).

In 2 Samuel 5 we read how this all happened. David, when faced with this threat, inquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you hand them over to me?” Then The Lord answered him, ‘Go, for I will surely hand the Philistines over to you.’ So David went… and there he defeated them. (vv. 19-20)

And so, this psalm of praise and thanksgiving to God ends with similar words to Psalm 121:2.

 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

This confirming David’s words in Psalm 20:7

 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Concerning this truth, Kidner concludes that in “Psalm 20:7 [ we see that] this invisible aid is shown to be more real and more potent than the most advanced equipment of the day. [This] is the lesson of [Psalm 124].” (# 29)

Father thank you for the truth that as Paul reminds us in Romans 8:31-39, If God is for us, who can be against us? (v. 31). Help us to trust you today whatever life brings our way. Amen.  

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