Psa. 124:0 A Song of degrees of David.
Three times each year the men of Israel were to come to the temple and present themselves before the Lord.
Deut. 16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:
The fifteen Psalms that are called the songs of degrees (elevation, journey to a higher place, go up) were to be sung as they ascended the temple mount.
Psa. 124:1 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say;
Psa. 124:2 If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us:
Psa. 124:3 Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us:
Psa. 124:4 Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul:
Psa. 124:5 Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.
Because we know this is a psalm of David, we know it must be in reference to events in the history of Israel in his own time or in times past or both. Israel had faced many enemies as a nation from the time that Pharaoh came after them with his army just after they had left Egypt until David and his armies had established Israel as a mighty nation through the defeat of their surrounding enemies. Many of these battles were miraculously won against all odds.
Š The initial conquering of Canaan.
Š From Midian by Gideon and his 300 (Judges 7).
Š From the Philistines led by Samuel (1Samuel 7).
Š From Goliath and the Philistines by David and the armies of Israel.
The waters are a reference to their enemies, the proud waters to their arrogant, prideful enemies. The fact that these songs were sung as a nation three times a year shows that they recognized the importance of remembering God’s past deliverance and provision as recognition of His ability to continue to deliver and provide for them and as motivation for their continued obedience to Him as LORD.
I think this is an important truth for Christians today. We need to make note of and remember the times that God so obviously “shows up” on our behalf. I personally believe that those times are far more numerous than I have actually recognized in my life. Those times will serve as a foundation for strong faith in other trying times that we may face. We know that God never changes and that He keeps His word. As we have been able to count on Him in the past, we will continue to be able to count on Him in the future.
1John 4:8 …God is love.
1Cor. 10:13 …God is faithful….
Mal. 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not….
Psa. 124:6 Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth.
Again, this is recognition that it was due to the LORD’s provision that the nation of Israel had not been devoured by their enemies.
Psa. 124:7 Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped.
“snare” = a spring net, a trap
No matter what the enemy might use against them, the LORD had preserved His people and delivered them from the plans of their enemies.
Psa. 124:8 Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
David is always bold and proud to acknowledge YHWH, the self-existent eternal God, the Creator of heaven and earth, as the covenant God of Israel. David knew that when we place our faith in the Creator of heaven and earth, there is no greater source of love and protection.
It stood out to me that though David is the author, this is a song for the nation. I can’t help but think how desperately our nation needs to remember her own blessings “under God” and be reminded that it is as we gave God the preeminence, we enjoyed greater blessing. At this stage, we have basically denied God any place in our nation as whole. We may be called the most powerful nation on earth, but we are nothing before the Maker of heaven and earth; and I believe we are just beginning to experience judgment that portends even greater judgment to come.