Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 124’

What if. . . If it had not been

November 13, 2020

This morning I woke up and began my day in grateful praise to God to see another day. I have so much to be thankful for, and as I reflected upon the goodness of God, I thought of Psalm 124 which I read aloud in the New Living Translation. The Psalmist stimulates our thinking with one of those “What if. . .” questions:

Psalm 124
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

1 What if the LORD had not been on our side? Let all Israel repeat:
2 What if the LORD had not been on our side when people attacked us?
3 They would have swallowed us alive in their burning anger.
4 The waters would have engulfed us; a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
5 Yes, the raging waters of their fury would have overwhelmed our very lives.
6 Praise the LORD, who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
7 We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!
8 Our help is from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.

Verse 1 in the New King James Version was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—

Psalm 124:1


If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,
I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.
I shudder to think just where I would be today.
I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,
But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,
My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.
He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,
But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.
Pressing toward the mark, the dawning of a brand-new day,
Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight, and pray.
The Lord is my keeper; in Him, I confide:
If it had not been for the Lord.

Esther Mui sings “Psalm 124 Song (NKJV) “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord.”:

We conclude with this comment—“ ‘No what-ifs, ands, or buts about it,’ the Lord is good.”

If it had not been for the Lord. . .

September 18, 2018

Despite the stress and the distress in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence with its devastating impact on the Carolinas, we remain overwhelmingly grateful to God. I woke up this morning abiding in the safety of the Lord, thankful for life, health, and strength, being able to express in words my gratitude as I post this entry.

In reflecting on where I have been and where I am now, I often say, “If it had not been for the Lord, I shudder to think where I would be.” I also think of Psalm 124 which opens with a similar statement, “If it had not been for the Lord who was on our side. . . .” Here is the psalm in its entirety in the King James Version:

Psalm 124

“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 men rose up against us,
Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their wrath was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
The stream would have gone over our soul;
Then the swollen waters
Would have gone over our soul.”

Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as 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.

Verse 1 was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—
Psalm 124:1

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

We would have drowned in the sea from the tears we cried.

We shudder to think just where we would be today.

We would have lost our mind or turned and walked away,

we learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

 

He was there to guide when we were tempted and tried,

Our shelter from the storm where we could run and hide.

He was our deliverer—that is all we have to say:

If it had not been for the Lord.

 

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,

But God came through and rescued us and turned the tide.

Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand new day,

Through all our trials we learned to watch, fight and pray.

The Lord is our keeper; in Him we confide:

If it had not been for the Lord.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 124: “Our Help is in the Name of the LORD.”

The reference to Psalm 124 causes us to think about where we all might have been, if it had not been for the Lord who was on our side.

Dying antelope transformed into a butterfly

September 13, 2017

Antelope into Butterfly--Rear view

This sculpture from Zimbabwe shows the transformation taking place as a dying antelope is changed into a butterfly.

Have you ever encountered a work of art that profoundly moved you? A painting, a sculpture, a musical composition, a photograph, or a scene from nature—a sunrise or a waterfall, a field of sunflowers or a fiery autumn leaf?  Were you inspired to think deeply, to “Selah” the moment: to pause, to consider deeply while reflecting upon what you observed or heard, as you endeavored to understand more fully your breath-taking experience?

More than 20 years ago while living in Columbus, OH, I recall seeing a special exhibition called Chapungu, a collection of sculpture from Harare, Zimbabwe on display at the Franklin Park Conservatory. One of the sculptured works of art that particularly arrested my attention was entitled “Dying Antelope Transformed into a Butterfly.”

After considerable reflection, several scriptures came to mind, including 1 Peter 3:18 (KJV):

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

The New Living Translation provides this rendering:

‎1 Peter 3:18 (NLT):

Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

The verse contrasts being “put to death in the flesh” with being “quickened or made alive.”

Translated from the Greek word zōopoieō, the expression meansto cause to live, make alive, give life, restore to life, endued with new and greater powers of life, of seeds quickened into life, i.e. germinating, springing up, growing)

The phrase “quickened by the Spirit” also brought to mind this stanza from the poem “Constant Reminders”:

God makes known to us a new covenant,

Quickened within us by a lively hope,

Energized by ever-increasing faith,

That we might know and be known by His love,

Surpassing even the knowledge of God:

How great and how precious is each promise.

The sculpture provided a graphic illustration of having been put to death with respect to the flesh in stark contrast to having been quickened or made alive with regard to the Spirit, inspiring this response:

A Lesson from Chapungu

Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;                                                                        

The snare is broken, and we have escaped.             

Psalm 124:7

With our eyes open to see what God has to say,

We stroll through varied green scenes while looking to see

Secret messages, sculpted letters speak clearly

In rocks that cry out from quarries of Zimbabwe.

Hunted game escapes, just beyond the fowler’s snare,

An antelope transformed into a butterfly,

Snatched from the clasp of death, energized to glorify

The God of the living, not the dead, to declare

Those who trust Him are released from the fear of death.

He upholds us with His victorious right hand.

Not even death can limit all that He has planned,

For God sustains all life and safeguards every breath.

The Lord protects His own, quickening flesh and bone,

That we might proclaim His praise as a living stone.

Esther Mui offers Psalm 124 “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord” from which the introductory verse of the poem is taken.

Psalm 118 and Psalm 124: The Lord is on my side

January 11, 2014

what ifPsalm 118:5-6

I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place. The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

This morning as I read the Verse of the Day from Psalm 118:5-6, the phrase “The Lord is on my side” seemed to stand out, almost as if in flashing fluorescent lights that pulsated in my mind’s eye. I thought of Psalm 124 which uses the same phrase, but it is expressed in a different way. The King James Version states, “If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side. . .” I prefer, however, the New Living Translation which raises one of those “What if…”questions. Here is the psalm in its entirety:

Psalm 124

What if the Lord had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
What if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.
The waters would have engulfed us;
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
Yes, the raging waters of their fury
would have overwhelmed our very lives.

Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Verse 1 in the King James Version was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—

 Psalm 124:1

 

If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,

I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.

I shudder to think just where I would be today.

I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,

But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,

My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.

He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:

If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,

But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.

Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand new day,

Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight and pray.

The Lord is my keeper; in Him I confide:

If it had not been for the Lord.

Helen Baylor shares part of her testimony and sings “If it Had Not Been for the Lord on My Side.”

The Verse of the Day from Psalms 118 brought to mind Psalm 124 which really caused me to think about what might have been, if it had not been for the Lord on my side.

What if. . .: Reflecting on God’s Goodness

March 13, 2013

Psalm 124:1 in the New Living Translation opens with a provocative question: "What if. . . "

Psalm 124:1 in the New Living Translation opens with a provocative question: “What if. . . “

This morning I woke up and began my day in grateful praise to God to see another day. I have so much to be thankful for, and as I reflected upon the goodness of God, I thought of Psalm 124 which I read aloud in the New Living Translation. The Psalmist stimulates our thinking with one of those “What if. . .” questions:

Psalm 124

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

What if the Lord had not been on our side?
Let all Israel repeat:
What if the Lord had not been on our side
when people attacked us?
They would have swallowed us alive
in their burning anger.
The waters would have engulfed us;
a torrent would have overwhelmed us.
Yes, the raging waters of their fury
would have overwhelmed our very lives.                                                                                                                                                Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!
We escaped like a bird from a hunter’s trap.
The trap is broken, and we are free!
Our help is from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

Verse 1 in the King James Version was the inspiration for this personal poetic expression:

If It Had Not Been for the Lord

“If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,”
Let Israel now say—

 Psalm 124:1

 

If it had not been for the Lord who was on my side,

I would have drowned in the sea from the tears I cried.

I shudder to think just where I would be today.

I would have lost my mind or turned and walked away,

But I learned that God is faithful—this cannot be denied.

He was there to guide when I was tempted and tried,

My shelter from the storm where I could run and hide.

He was my deliverer—that is all I have to say:

If it had not been for the Lord.

Enemies rose up like a flood to wash aside,

But God came through and rescued me and turned the tide.

Pressing toward the mark, dawning of a brand new day,

Through all my trials I learned to watch, fight and pray.

The Lord is my keeper; in Him I confide:

If it had not been for the Lord.

Helen Baylor sings “If it Had Not Been for the Lord on My Side.”

The essence of that message is reinforced with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, who remind me of “The Goodness of the Lord”

The Goodness of the Lord

I conclude this blog entry, as I reflect upon the past 70 years and metaphorically

I Sing in My Garden

Oh, sing unto the LORD a new song!

Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

Sing to the LORD, bless his name;

Proclaim the good news from day to day.

Psalm 96:1-2

 

I sing in my garden and reap the good,

The bounty of living these seventy years.

Each note seems to evoke a stream of tears

That fall, not because of some somber mood

But flow from a heart filled with gratitude.

The folksong of the farmer thrills my ears

Each time plowing, planting or harvest nears.

I compose my song, having understood

Lyrics I did not know when I was young,

When life was uncertain, my song unsure.

Now from my green garden I garner truth.

A song of conviction flows from my tongue.

I am seasoned and strengthened to endure,

Knowing the best lines are yet to be sung.

garden 2