Summary: The Lord saves His covenant people. Those He saves He saves perfectly.
If not for the Lord, Psalms 124
The Congregational preacher of old, D.L. Moody, tells the story of an incident that occurred during the last mutiny on the land of India, while under British control. The English were besieged in the city of Lucknow, and were in momentary expectation of perishing at the hands of the fiends that surrounded them. There was a little Scotch lassie in this fort, and, while lying on the ground, she suddenly shouted, her face aglow with joy, “Dinna ye hear them comin'; Dinna ye hear them comin'?” “Hear what?” they asked, “Dinna ye hear them comin?” And she sprang to her feet. It was the bagpipes of her native Scotland she heard. It was a native air she heard that was being played by a regiment of her countrymen marching to the relief of those captives, and these deliverers made them free. Oh, my friends, don't you hear Jesus Christ crying to you to-night?
Do you not hear the declaration of God’s glory, the tumult of His praise rising from the pages of Holy Scripture?! The sound of His voice rises from the scroll of the Psalms which was scratched by the pen of the Psalmist which resonates in the hearts of His covenant people from the days of old to this very moment. Do you not hear the sound?!
Today we explore a worthy topic indeed. Just a few chapters before our text for today, the writer of Psalms 121 declares, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.”
Today we discuss the truth declared in Psalms 124: our help comes from the Lord!
The Psalms are rich in theology. Often I am afraid that we neglect the importance of the Psalms theologically. We use them often in liturgy or devotion and it is right to do so. However, the Psalms are rich in Christo-centric God exalting theology. The Psalms are not all alike.
They are a collection of various types of worship genres. The Psalms, in the strictest sense, is the song book of Israel. It is that and more.
There are Psalms of lament (sorrow), Psalms of praise or thanksgiving, like the one we are studying today; some Psalms are based on community while others are individual. There are penitential Psalms, specialized thanksgiving (Todah) Psalms which speak of salvation history or songs of trust. There are hymnic Psalms, hymn and doxology Psalms, liturgical Psalms (for Public Worship), covenant songs, temple liturgies, wisdom Psalms, Torah poems, and others.
The Psalms are as varied as any hymn book of the Christian era. The Psalms are collections of writings of various worship types. As such, they contain wonderful accounts of God’s dealings with His people.
They even contain prophecy. Most notable for our discussion here is the reality that Psalms of praise contain worship theology. Psalms 124 tells the story of God’s deliverance of His people from the hand of a great enemy. It is entirely likely that this enemy is the Philistines.
Just as our hymns retell the wonderful stories of salvation, many of the Psalms likewise tell of the salvation of God.
“When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. But David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim. And David inquired of the LORD, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will you give them into my hand?" And the LORD said to David, "Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand." And David came to Baal-perazim, and David defeated them there. And he said, "The LORD has burst through my enemies before me like a bursting flood." Therefore the name of that place is called Baal-perazim. And the Philistines left their idols there, and David and his men carried them away. And the Philistines came up yet again and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim.
And when David inquired of the LORD, he said, "You shall not go up; go around to their rear, and come against them opposite the balsam trees. And when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then rouse yourself, for then the LORD has gone out before you to strike down the army of the Philistines." And David did as the LORD commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba to Gezer.” (II Samuel 5:17-25)
It is not certain that this is the events that are spoken of in Psalms 124 but there is a striking literary parallel between II Samuel 5:20 and Psalms 124:4-5: the raging or bursting waters. Regardless of what specific enemy the Israel’s had been saved from, Psalms 124 is a Psalm of declarative praise.