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When the Lord Is on Our Side 

He saves us from an overwhelming enemy

Psalm 124

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • August 13, In the year of our Lord, 2017


  1. The Berkeley Version of Psalm 124 has this note,

    “During the twenty-three hundred bombings of the Island of Malta in World War II, as the people gathered for prayer, this was their favorite Psalm.”

    1. Why?
    2. Let’s find out what this Psalm says.


  1. Psalm 124.0 | Go and Praise the Lord

    0 A Song of Ascents. Of David.

    1. David and Israel experienced an overwhelming enemy.
    2. However, Israel won and
      1. they ascended to Jerusalem
      2. to praise the Lord for the victory.
  2. Psalm 124.1–5 | If We Did Not Have the Lord

    1 “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
    Let Israel now say—
    2 “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,
    When men rose up against us,
    3 Then they would have swallowed us alive,
    When their wrath was kindled against us;
    4 Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
    The stream would have gone over our soul;
    5 Then the swollen waters
    Would have gone over our soul.”

    1. See the repeated emphasis of verses 1 and 2.
      1. David did not want Israel to miss the point.
      2. Does that surprise you?
        1. He began his psalm as his own sentiment, but
        2. he wanted Israel to say it with him.
    2. He declared with without the Lord here is what man would have done:
      1. Man would have swallowed Israel alive when their wrath grew.
      2. The waters would have overwhelmed Israel.
      3. David repeated that last item,
        1. stressing how the enemy would have overwhelmed their souls.
        2. Throughout most of Israel’s history
          1. man has sought to destroy Israel, and
          2. man has shifted that hatred toward the church.
            1. The world would love to overwhelm Israel and the church.
            2. The world would love to see us drown in troubles.
  3. Psalm 124.6–7 | Blessed Be the Lord

    6 Blessed be the LORD,
    Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
    7 Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
    The snare is broken, and we have escaped.

    1. All the glory goes to the Lord.
      1. Whatever happens,
      2. the glory goes to the Lord.
    2. It went to Him in David’s situation, because
      1. He had not given Israel as a prey to the teeth of the enemy.
      2. Israel saw the teeth, but
        1. the Lord rescued Israel just in time.
        2. Often the Lord waits
          1. until we are in the furnace,
          2. like Daniel’s three friends.
    3. The glory went to the Lord, because
      1. He had allowed Israel to escape like a bird from a snare.
      2. The Lord broke the snare and set Israel free,
        1. showing the Lord again
        2. letting Israel get snared, and then
          1. He sent them free.
          2. Why does the Lord wait?
            1. He waits until it becomes obvious
            2. that He was the One who did the deliverance,
              1. as He explained to Gideon
              2. on why the Lord wanted Israel’s numbers down,

                2 And the LORD said to Gideon, “The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me’” (Jdg 7.2).

                1. Psalm 124 shows David having the right spirit.
                2. He knew that Israel was in a spot
                  1. from which only the God of heaven
                  2. could deliver them.
  4. Psalm 124.8 | The Lord Our Help

    8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
    Who made heaven and earth.

    1. From start to finish David emphasized the Lord.
      1. Although an enemy overwhelmed David and Israel,
      2. he still focused on the Lord.
    2. Therefore, David acknowledged the name of the Lord as their help.
    3. And why was He such a help?
      1. Who is the God of Israel?
      2. He made heaven and earth.
        1. What man or group of men
        2. overwhelm the Lord that He cannot help?
          1. If He made heaven and earth,
          2. He can do anything.
            1. Helping Israel then or the church now
            2. is nothing for the One who can create the universe!


  1. I do not know about you, but I feel overwhelmed right now 
    1. as the secularistic view of life takes over,
    2. especially how it has drawn away our young people.
  2. However, this Psalm gives me hope. 
    1. Think of what Jacob once said to his uncle turned father-in-law,

      42 “Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night” (Gen 31.42).
  3. The Lord stays with us in all the trials of life, 
    1. ready to help us when we call upon Him.
    2. The size and ferocity of the enemy does not frighten Him.
      1. Listen, do we know this God of whom we speak?
      2. He made heaven and earth.
        1. What kind of enemy could possibly frighten Him?
        2. How did Israel remain a nation while other empires rose and fell?
          1. How has the church survived while nations have risen and fallen all around us?
          2. How have we survived with all the persecution the church has endured over the centuries?
            1. Matthew 28 shows us the promise of Jesus,

              20b “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28.20b).
            2. That is the only reason
              1. the church has survived and thrived
              2. in 1900 years of persecution.
    3. Warren Wiersbe summed up Psalm 124,

      “The Lord is on your side when people want to devour you (vv.1–3), when circumstances seem to drown you (vv. 4–5), and when Satan tries to deceive you (vv. 6–8).” (Bible Commentary: Old Testament, page 396).
  4. Therefore, let us be on His side and 
    1. He shall be on our side.
    2. Romans 8 shows what happens then.
  5. Think back on John’s vision of the glorified Christ in Revelation 1
    1. The Jews had already persecuted the church.
      1. The Romans were starting up.
      2. And they would intensify over the centuries.
    2. Notice what John saw Jesus holding, and then
      1. what Jesus did for John,

        16 He had in His right hand seven stars… 17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev 1.16–18).

        1. Jesus touched John with the right hand,
        2. the same hand that held the seven stars.
      2. Then did you hear what Jesus told John?
        1. Do not be afraid.
        2. Jesus is the First and the Last.
          1. He is everything.
          2. He is our everything.
      3. He knows of an overwhelming enemy, for
        1. they killed Him, but
        2. He arose from the dead!
  6. Christians who do not live by faith see us in the losing position, but 
    1. do not let them get you down.
    2. Hebrews 13.6

      6 So we may boldly say:
      “The LORD is my helper;
      I will not fear.
      What can man do to me?”
      (Heb 13.6)
    3. As John Greenleaf Whittier wrote,

      “I have no answer, for myself or thee,
      Save that I learned beside my mother’s knee;
      ‘All is of God that is, and is to be;
      And God is good.’ Let this suffice us still,
      Resting in childlike trust upon His will
      Who moves to His great ends unthwarted by the ill.”
  7. VII.Now do you see why the people of Malta 
    1. gathered during the bombing of their Island in WW II, and
    2. read and prayed Psalm 124?