Summary: Why we need the Lord on our side.
There is a local network whose newscast claims to be “On Our Side”. They claim that they are “on our side” because they ask the tough questions about issues in our community and because they go to bat for consumers who have complaints about companies they have done business with. And I’m sure that they probably have helped a lot of people over the years, although my guess is that their motivation for doing so has a lot more to do with trying to increase ratings than purely altruistic purposes.
As we embark on our journey to become mature disciples of Jesus, we are going to encounter obstacles along the way. In fact, as we’ll see this morning, Christian discipleship can be quite hazardous. But fortunately we have someone much more powerful than a local TV station on our side. That is the message of Psalm 124 that we’ll look at this morning.
Psalm 124 is the fifth of the fifteen Psalms of Ascent that were sung by the Hebrew pilgrims as they would travel up to Jerusalem three times a year to worship God at the feasts He had prescribed for them. Like many of the other Psalms of Ascent we don’t know for sure what historical event – or events – gave rise to this Psalm. The descriptions of the Hebrews’ enemies that we find in the Psalm are pretty general and the Psalmist could be referring to any number of different times that God came to the rescue of His people.
I think that this is another place where the Scriptures are intentionally vague so that when we read and study them, the application is not just limited to a particular type of situation or circumstance. So with that in mind, let’s read the Psalm out loud together.
If it had not been the LORD who was on our side—
let Israel now say—
if it had not been the LORD who was on our side
when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
and we have escaped!
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 124:1-8 (ESV)
Twice in the first two verses, the Psalmist proclaims that God is on the side of his people. And then He demonstrates how important that is by going on to describe what would have happened had God not been on their side. So let’s see what we can learn this morning about…
WHY WE NEED THE LORD ON OUR SIDE
1. Christian discipleship is hazardous work
Israel faced some powerful enemies and the Psalmist uses some vivid language to describe their nature. His people were in danger of being swallowed up alive by enemies who were like wild animals. They were in danger of being swept away by enemies who came at them like raging floods. We can certainly relate to that picture here in Southern Arizona during the monsoon season. And they were in danger of being ensnared by the traps that their enemies set for them.
Certainly among the historical events that the Psalmist had in mind here was Israel’s captivity in Egypt. There they were enslaved like a bird in a snare, working as slaves in a foreign land. And when God finally released them from that slavery their enemies pursued them like wild animals, intent on swallowing them up. And then, when they finally got to the Red Sea, they faced the danger of being engulfed by the waters when God made a way for them through the sea. But because He was on their side, God had rescued them each time.
Christian discipleship is also hazardous work. Think about the risk we take up front when we choose to center our lives on a God who we have never seen or touched or heard. And as we live out that life of faith we face fierce enemies who would like nothing better than to swallow us up or engulf us or put us into subjection.
Some of those dangers are internal. Our own doubts and fears often knock us off track and keep us from living the kind of life of obedience that we strive for.
Some of the dangers are unseen, like Satan who is seeking to devour those who have committed their lives to Jesus:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.