The last post on the Psalms of Ascent ended with God’s people dealing with “the scorn of those who are at ease” and “the contempt of the proud” at the end of Psalm 123. That Psalm emphasized the Lordship of the Lord, who is “enthroned in the heavens.” Those who follow the kingdoms of the world often have contempt and scorn for those who follow another way, who declare another Lord. However, Psalm 124 explains that our Lord has not left us alone:
“A Song of Ascents. Of David.
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.” (emphasis mine)
This Psalm speaks of times when we know only the Lord could have saved us, and we’ve learned that, “When all you have is God, He is enough.” Sometimes life is hard because of circumstances that force us to depend on Him, and we learn to trust Him and Him alone. The best way to know for ourselves that He is good is to act on our trust in Him, even when it’s hard or doesn’t make sense. When God works wonders for us, we should keep a record of God’s power and faithfulness in your life, like the memorial stones Israel placed after crossing the Jordan.
The other thing to notice about Psalm 124 is that it is entirely written with plural pronouns. David, the author, is telling us that the works of God in our lives, especially when there seemed no other way forward, are to be shared with the community of believers. “Let Israel now say” is something we do together. The church must be a community of people who share God’s work in their lives, as a contrast to “the proud” and “those who are at ease.” The One we serve – and the One they ridicule – wants us to testify to His salvation, and not any other hoped-for salvation.
John Calvin notes on the last verse (8): “The contrast between the help of God, and other resources in which the world vainly confides, as we have seen in Psalm 20:7, ‘Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God,’ is to be noticed, that the faithful, purged from all false confidence, may betake themselves exclusively to his succor, and depending upon it, may fearlessly despise whatever Satan and the world may plot against them.”
We know what God has done for us, but as a community we amplify the common witness of God being faithful. Hebrews 11 chronicles the faith of God toward His people in the Bible, in order that we may have a “cloud of witnesses” encouraging us not to “grow weary or fainthearted” as we endure hostility from sinners for serving our Lord. Psalm 124 is part of a liturgy for ancient Israelites traveling to corporate worship in Jerusalem and can be applied to corporate worship today. God calls all of His people to join the cloud of witnesses.
Therefore, when you attend worship this week, find a way to join someone else’s cloud of witness. Tell them what God has done for you, that only He could do. Then tell someone else. If you need encouragement yourself, pray that God would meet your need.
Dear fellow travelers: Be a cloud of witness. Show others your memorial stone.
If you’ve missed the earlier posts in the Psalms of Ascent series, the first post is here, and each post links to the next at the bottom.
Note on the series: This occasional Saturday series will cover Psalms 120 to 134. These “Psalms of Ascent” form a type of hymnal or liturgy that pilgrims could sing or recite on their way to the three annual feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Booths. In a modern context, these Psalms are a call to prepare for worship, to rejoice in the Sabbath, and to answer a call to serve God’s church on earth.