Psalm 124 Sermon – Week 5 Psalms of Ascent

As with all of the sermons here on my site, I post this and all of them for the glory of God with complete permission for you to use them as the Lord leads you.  You may deliver any of them as they are, alter them, or pull parts from them. No citing of sources is necessary.  Praying for blessings upon your calling.


Charles Spurgeon: Here are two if’s, but in reality there are no if’s – the Lord is on our side.

Verses 1-5 – An acknowledgement of favor via special deliverance.

Verses 6-7 – Grateful act of worship toward Jehovah

Lastly, A declaration of confidence in the Lord for all future trials.

Without a doubt, the writer of Psalm 124 and the Israelites had an event in mind when they were singing this Psalm. It is impossible to know who the enemy was, but the enemy is described as a monster that swallows up its victims… then to overwhelming waters, then to the snare of the fowler. While the metaphors are mixed, they are suggesting destructive powers that can strike terror even in the bravest hearts. Yet, as imminent as the dangers were, the pilgrims made it through them. And it does not appear that it was like the 99% of things we tend to worry about that never happen. Tell me you can’t relate to that sentence? Can’t you look back on your life or on last week, and think about times you worried for nothing?

Do you know what the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning is? A watch means conditions are favorable. A warning means it is imminent or one has been spotted. The Psalm speaks not of a watch, but of a warning. Being overtaken was imminent. These are threats that would have surely overtaken then, but instead have escaped thanks God being on their side. It was as though a miracle had happened. MercyMe Flawless – “Then like a hero who takes the stage when we’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late…”

In late 1899, a 25 year old Winston Churchill was a war correspondent in the Boer War when he was taken prisoner. He wrote: I realized with awful force that no exercise of my own feeble wit and strength could save me from my enemies and that without the assistance of that High Power which interferes in the eternal sequence of causes and effects more often than we are always prone to admit, I could never succeed. I prayed long and earnestly for help and guidance. My prayer, as it seems to me, was swiftly and wonderfully answered. I cannot now relate the strange circumstances which followed, and which changed my nearly hopeless position into one of superior advantage. But after the war is over I shall hope to lengthen this account, and so remarkable will the addition be that I cannot believe the reader will complain.”

If it had not been for the Lord….

Have you ever thought what your life would have been like if the Lord were not on your side? If He was not “for you”? If He was not wooing you?

I can look back at all so many times in my youth and before I became a follower of Jesus Christ 20 years ago that things could have turned out differently. I did not see it at the time, but if the Lord was not protecting the “heathen me” to make sure I did not mess things up so bad that I could never become a pastor, I would not be here today… If it were not for the Lord, who was on my side.

I pray for people I love, whom God also loves, yet they are far from Him. I pray this way: “Do what you have to do to save them, be as gentle as you can.”

If it had not been for the Lord….

If Diane were here today, I would have her share a story of when she had the two boys in the car, they were probably 3 and 5 and she was driving in the winter and completely spun around in the road a few miles from our home.

If it had not been for the Lord who was on her side.

We have been but not perplexed, crushed…

If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side:

Man would have still been lying on the mat – John 5:8

The deaf man never would have been able to hear – Mark 7

The demon possessed man would still be in chains – Luke 8

If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side:

the woman caught in adultery would have been stoned – John 8

The leper would never have been healed – Matthew 8

lame man would have continued to lay by pool of bethesda – John 5

If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side:

Bartimaeus would still be called blind bart – Mark 10

Lazarus would have remained in the grave – John 11

People would still be trying to earn their way to reconciliation with God.

There would be no hope.

If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side:

the notorious prisoner Barabbas would have gotten what he deserved and would have gone to the cross instead of Jesus.

the penitent thief on the cross would not have gone to be with Jesus in paradise…

Likewise, I would have gotten what I deserve – instead of Jesus paying for my sin, I would still receive the punishment I deserve.

This is where I want us to pivot to a personal application, that is just as important. We are all pilgrims. And we slip and we fall and we wander.

But when we place our faith and hope in Jesus, when we confess our sins to Him and receive forgiveness – The Lord is on our side…. we are on His side…

Eugene Peterson, in A Long Obedience puts it this way:

Every day I put faith on the line. I have never seen God. In a world where nearly everything can be weighed, explained, quantified, subjected to psychological analysis and scientific control I persist in making the center of my life a God who know I have seen, nor ear heard, whose will no one can probe. That’s a risk. Every day I put hope on the line. I don’t know one thing about the future. I don’t know what the next hour will hold. There may be sickness, personal or world catastrophe. Before this day is over I may have to deal with death, pain, loss, rejection.
I don’t know what the future holds for me, for those who I love, for my nation, for this world. Still, despite my ignorance and surrounded by tinny optimists and cowardly pessimists, I see that God will accomplish his will, and I cheerfully persist in living in the hope that nothing will separate me from Christ’s love.

Every day I put love on the line. There is nothing I am less good at then love. I am far better in competition than in love. I am far better at responding to my instincts and ambitions to get ahead and make my mark then I am at figuring out how to love another. I am schooled and trained in getting my own way. And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt to do what I do very clumsily– open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.

I live on the edge of defeat all the time. I have never done any one of those things to my satisfaction. I live within the dragons reach and at the floods edge. Psalm 124 though, is not about hazards but about help. The hazardous work of discipleship is not the subject of the psalm but only it’s setting. The subject is help. Blessed be the Lord who has not given us as prey to their teeth. Harards or no hazards, the fundamental reality we live with is “The Lord who was on our side… Our help is in the name of the Lord.”

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

2 Corinthians 4 – For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Last week, I said I wanted us to look at Psalm 123 through the lens of the New Testament, through “the rest” of God’s word. I had today’s sermon finished and was reviewing it this morning when I changed up the ending here based on the idea of seeing Psalm 124 through the lens of Jesus and the New Testament.

Before we are saved, Romans says we are enemies of the Lord. Romans 5:10 says, “For if, when we were enemies of God…” Yet, God does not treat us like His enemy. We are His enemy, but I an not convinced that He sees Himself as our enemy. Do you know what I mean?

There may be people who despise me and consider me their enemy, but I do not consider them my enemy. I do not consider any people my enemy. I want them all to receive Jesus. Or if they say have been saved, I pray that God would change their heart so they would begin to act like they are saved…

There was a woman we took to the hospital this week on the ambulance and I said to her, “You are a Christian, aren’t you?” She said yes. I told her that I often can’t tell if people are or not, but I could tell she was.

We make ourselves enemies of God. But when we quit that and decide to “change teams” by joining Jesus, by receiving redemption through repentance, not only can we say, If it were not for the Lord who is on our side….. We can say, “If it were not for the Lord who is BY MY SIDE…. If it were not for the Lord who was on my INSIDE…

The Israelites had the Lord on their side… we have it so much better. God sends the Holy Spirit to be by our side and on our inside… within us….

So that we can proclaim, “If it had not been for the Lord within me…”

If you have chosen to give your life to Jesus, He calls you friend. He is with you and nothing can get to you that has not filtered. Sometimes that is hard to comprehend, because there are things we do not prefer. But He has His reasons. To remind his congregation of God’s presence, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. gave this benediction to his congregation one time… and it is my sending forth to you:

God go before you to lead you, God go behind you to protect you, God go beneath you to support you, God go beside you to befriend you. 

Do not be afraid. May the blessing of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be upon you. Do not be afraid. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen.”