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Sunday, June 27, 2021

“If The LORD Had Not Been On Our Side” Psalm 124 [Matt's Messages]

“If The LORD Had Not Been On Our Side”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
June 27, 2021 :: Psalm 124

Psalm 124 is one of the Psalms of Ascent. It is ascribed to David, and the ancient Hebrew pilgrims would sing it together with the other 14 Psalms of Ascent as the Israelite families ascended up to Jerusalem from all over Israel for the annual feasts and holy festivals in Jerusalem.

Psalm 124 is a traveling worship song.

Does or did your family ever sing worship songs in your car, maybe on your way to church?

We just sold off our two family mini-vans. I think it’s been a year and half since all 6 of us were in one of them together. But when our kids were little, we enjoyed singing worship songs together in those vans as we traveled. 

Our kids especially enjoyed “Mighty Mighty Savior” (do you remember that one?) and “W-I-S-D-O-M.” Shouted at the top of their lungs.

Traveling worship songs. Psalm 124 is a traveling worship song like that. And it’s full of vivid metaphors and word pictures about rescue and deliverance and salvation that just pop in your mind and heart as you read it. You just see it and feel it as you sing it.

And it starts with a call and response. One of the family members starts it and then calls for all of Israel to sing it with them.

One of the worshippers starts the song and then calls the whole nation corporately to belt it out together.

“If the LORD had not been on our side–let Israel say–if the LORD had not been on our side...” what would have happened?

What disaster would have been the outcome?

“If the LORD had not been on our side.”

That’s the question that this traveling worship song so beautifully and vividly answers in its lyrics.

And its lyrics also tell us how Israel (and by extension we) should live because the LORD was and is on our side.

Have I ever mentioned that the ancient Hebrews liked to repeat themselves?

It’s true! The ancient Hebrews liked to repeat themselves.

Yes! The ancient Hebrews liked to repeat themselves.

But they always had a reason to repeat themselves. And the reason was almost always emphasis.

When you repeat something, you emphasize it.

When you repeat something, you really emphasize it.

This song repeats the phrase, “If the LORD (Yahweh) had not been on our side...”

“Let Israel say! Send it back to me now!”

“If the LORD had not been on our side...”

Let Lanse Free Church say it!

“If the LORD had not been on our side...”

It’s almost unthinkable what would have happened.

Psalm 124 is a song of praise and thanksgiving for a divine intervention. Praise and thanksgiving for God’s deliverance of God’s people.

It’s a rescue song. God has rescued His people, and they are so relieved and so happy.

They have been rescued from a terrible fate, and they know it. 

And they know how it happened that they were rescued and Who rescued them. It was God that did it. The LORD, Yahweh, and nobody else.

Now, we don’t actually which national rescue this song is about. We don’t know the occasion. Some parts of this song remind me of the Red Sea Rescue, which was probably the greatest and granddaddy of all rescues of the Old Testament.

But it is a psalm of David, so it could be a song David wrote about a time when Israel was rescued when he was king. 

We don’t know, and I kind of like it that way. Because, like a lot of the other psalms, it’s obviously about real life, and we can easily substitute our own stories into the song.

What have we been rescued from?

And how were we rescued? Who did it?

“If the LORD had not been on our side...”

You can just about see the Israelites shaking their heads as they sing it.

“Oh, man. That was a close one!”

“We were goners!”

“We came that close to total destruction.”

“If the LORD had not been on our side, we would have been toast!”

The repetition of verse 1, gets you ready for the metaphors of potential disaster that come, layer upon layer, in verses 2, 3, 4, and 5.

“...if the LORD had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; [like a giant monster slurping us down in one gulp, v.4] the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away.”

Remember how the Israelites felt about the sea? Chaos, evil, uncontrolled chaos.

This song uses the image of a deluge of raging waters overcoming the people.

“If LORD had not been on our side when we were attacked, then it would have been like a flood engulfing us, the current overtaking us, the raging waters of the river carrying us away.”

Have you ever almost drowned? Maybe in the ocean?

The water cover your head?

The undertow almost take down?

Our daughter Robin was recently exploring a creek with some friends and it was deep in one part and she went under and couldn’t get back up. And it took one of the friends grabbing her and dragging her up to safety or she could have been lost to us, just like that.

Israel was singing that they would have been drowned if the LORD had not been on their side.

All would have been lost!

If the LORD had not been on their side.

But He was!

The LORD showed up.

The LORD rescued them. V.6

“Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.”

Have I ever mentioned that the ancient Hebrews liked to repeat themselves?

Here it’s the phrase, “We have escaped!”

I almost titled this message, “We have escaped!”

Do you feel how saved they felt?

They were like a bird trapped in a bird trap, but something or somebody broke the trap, and the bird flew away!

“Like a bird from prison bars has flown! I’ll fly away.”

 “We have escaped!”

“We got away! We got to fly away!”

David says in verse 6 it was like they were the jaws of a savage beast, and but they didn’t get torn, something or somebody opened up the jaws, and then they escaped!

Do you feel how saved they felt?

You tell why I picked this psalm for this Sunday when we are celebrating the end of COVID-restrictions but even more when we are celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

Because this cup is the cup of escape.

This cup is the cup of salvation.

This bread is the bread of deliverance.

We have been rescued. 

But we would have been lost if the LORD had not been on our side.

Think about from what you and I who belong to Jesus have been rescued.

Sin
Self
Satan
Eternal death and Hell!

They would have swallowed us alive.

“The flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away."

We would have been torn by the teeth of Hell.

But we have escaped!

Because there’s power in the blood.

I think this song teaches us that it is important to at least every once in a while think about what could have happened if we did not belong to the Lord.

Just think about that.

Think about what would have happened if the Lord had not shown up in your life.

Think about what would have happened if the LORD had been on the other side!

At the Red Sea, the Egyptian Army, Pharaoh and his chariots were swept away and drowned.

But we have escaped.

We have escaped.

Because the LORD was on our side.

Now, how did that come about? How did it come about that LORD would be on the side of Israel?

It wasn’t because Israel was so great.

It wasn’t because Israel was so good.

It wasn’t because of anything about Israel except God’s grace and faithfulness to them. God had set His love on Israel and made promises to them that He was bound and determined to keep.

When this says that God was on their side, it doesn’t mean that God always agreed with Israel or that He was always happy with Israel. As if!

No, the Hebrew here is actually the past tense of the words “God with us.”

This means that God was with Israel. He was present. And He was FOR THEM.

Even when they didn’t deserve it.

Especially when they didn’t deserve it! That’s God’s grace!

And the same is true for us who belong to Jesus.


And, in fact, He is not just not against us. He is for us.


But that’s only true for those who are in Christ Jesus.

For God to be on your side, you need to repent and turn to be on His side.

To turn from your sinful rebellion, laying down your arms, and coming to Him for amnesty and forgiveness and pardon and salvation.

Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save sinners like you and me.

Not perfect people.
Not even good people.

Bad people who do not deserve it.

People who deserve to be swallowed alive by death and Hell.

But people who have repented of their sins and put their trust in the Savior.

We have escaped!
We have escaped!

Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior, as your Rescuer, your Deliverer?

I hope so. If not, I invite you trust in Him today.

Two points of application from Psalm 124 as we head towards the Lord’s Table.

Here’s number one, and it’s in verse 6.

#1. PRAISE THE LORD.

"Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped...we have escaped." Praise the LORD!

Praise the King
This our song, our song shall be!
Praise the Saviour
Praise the King”

Sing the traveling worship song!

Psalm 124 is a praise and thanksgiving song about God’s deliverance.

And how much more should we sing God’s praise when we have been rescued from something so much worse than Pharaoh or the Philistines?!

People should know how saved we feel by the songs we sing.

And here’s number two and last before we go to the table.

#2. HOPE IN THE LORD.

King David brings it all home in verse 8 with the bottom line.

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Our help is not in any other god that we might be tempted to turn to.

Not Baal or Molech or Ashtoreth or Allah.

Not Money.
Not Reputation.
Not Pleasure.
Not Relationships.
Not Politics.
Not Family.
Not Government.
Not Sports.
Not Entertainment.
Not America.
Not the Church!


They are not our help.

"Our help is in the name of the [Yahweh], the Maker of heaven and earth."

The Creator and Sustainer of all there is.

And the Redeemer of His people.

Our help is not in ourselves.

We do not save ourselves.

We cannot save ourselves.

If the LORD had not shown up, we would have drowned. 

If the LORD had not been on our side, we would have been torn to pieces.

But He did show up!

He was on our side.

He is, in Christ, on our side.

So we put our hope in Him.

Whatever you are going through right now, and I’ll bet there are a lot of hard situations in our midst right here right now.

Put your hope in the LORD. He has the all the power. He is the Maker of heaven and earth.

He is your help.

Put your hope in Him.

***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 to Summer 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise You" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99
34. "Not To Us, O LORD" - Psalm 11
35. "Blessed" - Psalm 32
36. "Sit At My Right Hand" - Psalm 110
37. "Your Love Is Better Than Life" - Psalm 63

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