Psalm 123 reminded us of our total dependence on God, who reigns from heaven and will pour out his mercies upon us in his perfect timing. We identified with the psalmist, whose soul had experienced “more than enough” contempt from the proud. We saw God’s promise that he will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability and that he will surely rescue us.
Following Psalm 123 in the “mini-psalter” of the Songs of Ascents, Psalm 124 extols the Lord and celebrates escape.
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 (1-5, ESV).
In the context of corporate worship, God’s people praise him and celebrate his rescue. Those who rose up in anger against us threatened to swallow us alive. If God hadn’t been on our side, we would have drowned. Floods would have swept us out to sea, torrential rains would have filled our lungs, raging waters would have pushed us into the deep.
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!
The imagery moves from watery depths to physical traps. The wicked are depicted as ravening beasts with sharp teeth. But the Lord did not allow us to be their prey. They have set a snare for us, but God broke the trap and we escaped like a bird flying through a hole in a net.
We did nothing to secure our escape; it was the Lord’s work from first to last.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth (8, ESV).
The Creator God who made the universe still rules. He is our rock and refuge, a very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46).