Safe Surrender                      Psalm 124    October 25, 2009

Psalm 124 is an exuberant hymn. It expresses the community of Israel’s deep relief, gratitude and praise to the Lord for delivering them from great peril. “A Song of Ascents” (v. 1 of Psalms 120-134) likely relates to the people or priests of Israel as they were geographically and spiritually going up to Jerusalem or to the temple.

Verses 1b-5 are composed of one extended conditional expression. IF it had not been for the Lord’s presence with the people of
Israel when they were attacked, they would have had no hope.  Verses 3-5 vividly depict several related consequences: enemies “would have swallowed us up alive ….”, “the flood would have swept us away” = “the torrent would have gone over us” = “over us would have gone the raging waters
The original hearers of Psalm 124 would have (theolocially and spiritually) linked these words with the waters of chaos that God had triumphed over (as, in Creation). (God is always praised as creator.) Israel would have been totally defeated had not God been with them to bring victory.

Verse 6a is an expression of praise to Yahweh, the Lord God of
Israel. Baruk YHWH (pronounced baruk ’adonai) means “Bless Yahweh” or “Praise Yahweh.” The praise is given because the Lord has not given “us” (Israel) as prey to the enemies’ teeth. In yet another metaphor, “we” have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler. A snare is a nooselike wire or cord used to catch a bird or small game; a fowler is a game-bird hunter. Not only have we escaped, but the enemies’ trap is broken. This is significant.
Like a bird, a little bird (the word signifies a sparrow), out of the snare of the fowler. The enemies are very subtle and spiteful; they lay snares for God's people, to bring them into sin and trouble, and to hold them there. Sometimes they seem to have prevailed so far as to gain their point.
God's people are taken in the snare, and are as unable to help themselves out as any weak and silly bird is; and then is God's time to appear for their relief, when all other friends fail; then God breaks the snare, and turns the counsel of the enemies into foolishness: The snare is broken and so we are delivered.
The snare is like the grave—one is caught/stuck/held down. But compare this image to, "O, death (grave) where is your sting?
The snare of the trap broken—the prey goes free. In death and resurrection the soul goes free and death defeated. Thanks be to God and Christ's work on the cross!
We don’t know what threatening event is being spoken of in Psalm 124. But God has delivered his people from the menace.

The people of God, (being here called upon to praise God for their deliverance), are to take notice,… Of the goodness of God, by which they were rescued from the very brink of ruin: "The Lord was on our side; and, if he had not been so, we should have been undone."
"God was on our side; he took our part, espoused our cause, and appeared for us. He was our helper, and a very present help, a help on our side, nigh at hand. He was with us, not only for us, but among us, and commander-in-chief of our forces."  
Verse 8 is the capstone of Psalm 124: “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” The word help in Psalm 124:8 is ‘ezer in Hebrew. This often means God’s military assistance. In 1 Samuel 7:12, after the Lord brought victory against the Philistines, “Samuel took a stone and set it up … and named it Ebenezer [Hebrew “(the) Stone of help”]; for he said, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’”
The hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” alludes to the 1 Samuel 7 passage, with the second verse’s “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.”—a sign of victory; celebration cry of victory of God's victory on our behalf…our thoughts may go to the great work of our redeption by Jesus Christ, by which we were rescued from the powers of darkness.

Samuel 7: 9 And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him. 10 Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below BethCar. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer,[c] saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
In Verse 8, Shem YHWH (“the name of the Lord”) is highly significant (theologically.)  Personal names (Yahweh is the personal name of the God of Israel) frequently express “existence, character and reputation.” “In some passages shem Yahweh is so inextricably bound up with the being of God, that it functions almost like an appearance of Yahweh (Exodus 23:20-21; Isaiah 30:27). Cf. the tabernacling [sic] of the Name at various spots almost like a Christophany (Exodus 20:24; Deuteronomy 12:5; 2 Samuel7:13, etc.).” There are connections to other expressions of God’s presence such as “the glory of God.”

The New Testament similarly uses such expressions as “in the name of the Lord,” “in the name of the
Lord Jesus (Christ),” “in my [Jesus’] name,” etc. Often “Lord” in the NT means “the Lord JesusChrist.
"No name under heaven whereby we must be saved," Romans
10: 13; Acts 2:21

Verse 8’s “who made heaven and earth” specifies the Lord as Creator. “Heaven and earth” means that God made everything.

Psalm 124 as a whole has many parallels in the Psalms and elsewhere in Scripture. Scripture emphasizes that we human beings, even devout human beings who are part of God’s community, cannot adequately rescue ourselves from mortal danger (whether national or personal, physical or spiritual danger). Only God’s loving grace can do that. And we thank God for delivering us. God and
Jesus Christ promise to be with us and not abandon us. 

But does God rescue people without any conditions at all? Remember such passages as Jeremiah 7:1-15; Micah 3:8-12; and Amos 9:10, where the prophets announce that the Lord will not automatically provide protection to just any folks who claim to be God’s people, not even those who live in Jerusalem, the place of God’s temple. He will deliver them only when God’s people faithfully follow God’s ways. (Similarly, see
Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21-23. Also see Hebrews 12:14.)

 3 Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths[a] from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths,[b] and served the LORD only.

Yet even the faithful can puzzlingly experience terrible things (OT - Job, NT -
Jesus). Nonetheless, our help and hope are in God. To those who both trust and obey God, God promises to be with us and to provide providential care to see us through even horrendous situations, either in rescue (as in Psalm 124 and elsewhere) or in quiet presence to walk with us or to hold us as we go through tough times.
For (in the words of Psalm 124:8): “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” And (in the words of Psalm 23:4, NLT): “Even when I walk through the darkest valley [Or the dark valley of death], I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me ….” God has already delivered us from many perils (some of which we aren’t even aware). And we express our deep relief, gratitude and praise to God in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Rev. RosemaryStelz
New Testament uses of Name of the Lord"
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”[e](that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”[f] 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”[g]
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
       17 ‘ And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
       That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
      Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
      Your young men shall see visions,
      Your old men shall dream dreams.
       18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants
      I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
       And they shall prophesy.
       19 I will show wonders in heaven above
      And signs in the earth beneath:
      Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
       20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
      And the moon into blood,
      Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
       21 And it shall come to pass
      That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
      Shall be saved.’[b]

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken[c] by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him:

      ‘ I foresaw the LORD always before my face,
      For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
       26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
      Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
       27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
      Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
       28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
      You will make me full of joy in Your presence.’[d]
  June 2021  
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