The Lord Saves His People
A song for going up to worship. Of David.
1 What if the Lord had not been on our side?
(Let Israel repeat this.)
2 What if the Lord had not been on our side
when we were attacked?
3 When they were angry with us,
they would have swallowed us alive.
4 They would have been like a flood drowning us;
they would have poured over us like a river.
5 They would have swept us away like a mighty stream.
6 Praise the Lord,
who did not let them chew us up.
7 We escaped like a bird
from the hunter’s trap.
The trap broke,
and we escaped.
8 Our help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
We can play “the what if game.” We can think backwards, and hit replay, and pretend alternate realities. What if, I didn’t join the army? What if I died on that last drunken spree, choking on my own vomit? Date that particular girl, go to a Bible college? These events could have happened. (But didn’t).
David asks an enormous “what if.” And this trip down memory lane examines what would of, (or could have) happened if God would have taken His hand off Israel as a nation.
V. 1- 5, King David poses this question. He wants Israel to understand what he is saying. He forces the comment to repeat after him. He then re-frames the question in V.2. David wants his nation to think through this, “What if God had not stepped into the situation?”
I truly believe that we should occasionally do the same today. A moments pause to reflect on His grace and attending care. To understand that it was God’s grace that held us in place. All that He does for us is very good indeed.
The opposing forces of our malevolent enemy have a ministry. That ministry is too steamroll and crush. As a boy I remember having the same vivid dream, especially when I would have a fever. It was always the same, I was on a conveyor belt, and I couldn’t move. At the end of that belt was huge lugged rollers. I was going to be crushed to death. I can still remember the terror of being frozen to the moving belt.
There is a sense of being so overwhelmed by your enemies. The chosen metaphor is an intense flood, irresistible waters sweeping us downstream. Does Satan have this much power? I think he does. But if we focus on these first five verses we see that they are merely potentialities… what could have happened… if God had let go.
V. 6, “Praise the Lord, who did not let them chew us up.” David is a very vivid writer, he had a flair of choosing the best images. We see God intervening, of wading into the flood, and preventing Israel from being devoured.
V. 7 “We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!” ESV. I love this verse. “Escaped” is emphasized twice, the bird catchers have collected many birds, snared by a little food and a strong net. But something has just happened, and the birds somehow escape! Growing up I once went ice fishing with my grandpa. He would catch some beautiful fish, but I surreptitiously would slip them into the water to set them free. Somehow I think this is God’s heart.
V. 8, is the ultimate lesson of this psalm. It sums up everything wonderfully. There is help. The Creator who cares for us. He has ultimate strength.
- Welcome to Psalms Life (psalmslife.com)
- Worship Practice Starts Now: Psalms 150 (psalmslife.com)
- Something Way Beyond Worship: Psalm 59 (psalmslife.com)