Scripture: Psalm 124
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 our enemies attacked us,
3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
4 then the flood would have swept us away,
the torrent would have gone over us;
5 then over us would have gone
the raging waters.
6 Blessed be the Lord,
who has not given us
as prey to their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Reflection: This psalm is bombastic in describing enemies and their desire to swallow, flood, rage and sweep away any in their way – Israel in particular. We hear of their anger, their snares and their teeth – the stuff of nightmares. But because God was on Israel’s side – so giddy are they with that reality they are encouraged to say it twice – because God was on their side, they were not overthrown or destroyed. You expect something equally bombastic when describing their redemption and release. Was the psalmist not tempted to boast, be defiant, triumphantly obnoxious? At the point of victory I expect to hear trumpets blaring, flags flying, drums beating – all in a great cacophony, a terrible display of God’s power that will show who’s who and what’s what and don’t you forget it again!
But that’s not the image at all, is it? Israel describes itself as a little bird that has escaped the snare. Pardon me, but a bird that has escaped? Not a lion that has overcome? Not a hawk with talons that retaliated with might? Even in victory and salvation God’s people are humble, merciful, tender. The psalmist knows that the power and the glory belong to God and we, like birds, are lucky to attract the attention of the maker of heaven and earth and escape the fowler’s snare. Not lucky. Grateful.
Prayer: We are not strangers to your mercy, Lord. Acquaint us too with humility and tenderness. As Jesus loved and forgave his enemies, help us to be kind to all and despise none today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Derek Macleod
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].