Our Hurdles and Our Help
by Sarah Ivill
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Have you ever come through a difficulty and thought, “Phew! I barely made it.” When chronic pain seems overwhelming and you make it through an intensely painful week. When money is extremely tight and you manage to pay that month’s bills. When a marriage seems strained beyond relief and you come through on the other side fully reconciled. When a prodigal son or daughter seem so far away they’ll never return and then they do. When the job seems intensely stressful and you’re close to throwing in the towel and then things get better. When the chemotherapy is over and you hear that the cancer is in remission. It’s easy to look back at times and think, “I barely made it.” Psalm 124, one of the Songs of Ascents (120-134), helps us add an important perspective, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,” we wouldn’t have made it.
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.
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! Our help is in the name of the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Our Hurdles (124:1-5). David had felt the hot breath of his enemies and heard the frightening whoosh of arrows flying past him. He was too wise to think it was his swift maneuvering or his strategic location that had saved him. He knew with confidence that the Lord was on his side! You’ve known that too, haven’t you? When the raging roar of addiction, anger, relational difficulty, financial ruin, and the like surround you, you don’t really think you can outmaneuver it do you? We need the Lord on our side! And He is.
Our Help (124:6-8). David had also seen the white teeth of those seeking to defeat him and experienced the snare in enemy territory. And he was too wise to think it was his stinky breath or steady steps that had saved him. He knew with confidence that the Lord was his help! The Creator of the world, and the Creator of David, delivered him time and again from those who wanted to steal, kill and destroy him.
Think of the pilgrims making their way to Jerusalem to celebrate an annual feast, raising their eyes to the city of David, the one to whom God had promised a position, place, peace and progeny. Like David, they too had known the threat of defeat, but their hope was in the Lord. Or think of the pilgrims returning to Jerusalem after the exile. They had been tempted to believe they were defeated, but their hope was in the One who made heaven and earth.
If it had not been Jesus who was on our side, the wrath of God would rage against us and we would be separated from Him forever. But Jesus has been our help by living a life of perfect obedience on our behalf, by atoning for our sin and turning God’s wrath away from us, bringing reconciliation between God and man.
As Christ’s ambassadors, we have the amazing privilege to be messengers of reconciliation. When others rise up against us in anger, we can move toward them in love. When floodwaters of suffering threaten to sweep us away, we can stand steadfast in the faith. When sin threatens to undo us, we can put on the full armor of God. And when addiction threatens to ensnare us, we can cry out to our Helper in time of need.
Oh Lord, not only do You equip us as peacemakers, You call us to the privilege of being messengers of reconciliation. We cannot be peacemakers or messengers of reconciliation unless You transform our hearts to be fully Yours. Today, when faced with hostility, anger, suffering, temptation to give in to the call of sin, we remember that You are our help. You are our only hope.
Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is the author of several Bible studies and books, including The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community. She is a wife, mother to four children, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more about Sarah, visit her website: www.sarahivill.com.