Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 124:1’

Reflecting on God’s goodness: If it had not been for the Lord

February 1, 2020

This morning I wake up and begin my day in grateful praise to God to see another day. I have so much to be thankful for as I reflect upon the goodness of God. I think of Embracing Your Life Sentence: How to Turn Life’s Greatest Tragedies into Your Greatest Triumphs, my book where I share the challenges I faced and the victories I’ve won in my battle against prostate cancer. Chapter 4 closes with a reference to Psalm 124 which I would read aloud in the New Living Translation over and over. Here the Psalmist stimulates my 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.
6 Praise the Lord,
who did not let their teeth tear us apart!

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.

We close this time of reflection with “Our Help is in the Name of the Lord,” Christian worship and scripture song by Esther Mui:

 

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.

Get it together

August 16, 2016

Psalm 124--1

Instead of looking at the Verse of the Day, as we so often do, our focus today is on a particular phrase or Word for the Day. On August 16, 2016, we are going to take a look at the phrase “Get it together!”

The expression is sometimes defined as “to get one’s life in order” or “to get one’s current state of mind in order.” McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs offers this definition: “to become fit or organized; to organize one’s thinking; to become relaxed and rational.” Another source defines the expression this way: “to make a decision or take positive action in your life.”

In thinking about this particular verb phrase, I happened to recall a statement by Donald Lawrence which provided an introduction to the following poem:

In the Fight for Your Life

“God will keep it together until you get it together.”

 Donald Lawrence

 

 

In the fight for your life,

Get it together and keep it together

God will strengthen you

So that you can weather any storm

God will keep it together

Until you get it together

 

No matter what happens,

Keep on watching and waiting

With outstretched necks,

Yearning, ever anticipating

Until Christ returns to gather us together

 

Until then. . .

In the fight for your life,

Get it together and keep it together

 

Despite my best efforts, there were countless times when I struggled to get it together, when I felt overwhelmed and seemed to be about to “lose it,” as I earnestly endeavored to renew my mind and maintain a state of mental equilibrium. During those times of turmoil, I now recognized that I would have “lost it altogether” had it not been for the Lord. I echo the sentiments of the Psalmist who made a similar declaration in the introduction to the following:

 

If It Had Not Been for the Lord


If it had not been for 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.

 

Now I recognize that the Lord helped me to get it together and keep it together because he is my keeper, so sing Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Choir featuring Eric McDaniel in “Keeper.”

 

Halloween Reflections: To the Rescue

October 31, 2012

In thinking about Halloween, I recall an experience a friend shared regarding a horrible prank that occurred as a child.

Halloween and some of its negative aspects, such as pranks, remind me of an incident a friend shared with me when he went to live with a relative in the rural South where there was no indoor plumbing, and everyone used an outdoor toilet known as an “outhouse.” Unbeknownst to my young friend, the custom on Halloween night was to move the “outhouse” from its original position so that when a person stepped inside, he would fall into the pit. That’s exactly what happened, and my friend immediately cried out, “Daddy, Daddy, come and get me!” His father came running with a flashlight and reached down and grabbed his son by the collar and snatched him out of the horrible pit.
That incident never fails to remind me of a spiritual parallel whereby I, like the young boy in horrific circumstances, called out to my Heavenly Father in desperation. I identified with my friend and expressed my thoughts in some of the lines of “my testimony in poetry”:

With lovin arms you reach way down
And snatched me from Satan’s outhouse,
Sought me and flat-out rescued me,
Fixed me up in my Father’s house.

Why Don’t Somebody Help Me Praise the Lord?

(from Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance)

Many times as we go through life, we become entangled in circumstances that restrict our efforts to succeed and impede our progress. Like the Psalmist we may find ourselves in situations whereby we cry out to God:

Psalm 35:17
Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions.

The calling out to God in desperation to “come rescue me” is beautifully expressed in this rendition of “I Need You Now” by Smokie Norful:


When I think about being rescued from a dangerous situation, I recall some of the lyrics of this familiar “vintage hymn” from childhood days of growing up in the Church. The hymn was “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” which had these lines:

Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

The words have become even more meaningful today. I was absolutely overwhelmed by this rendition of the song from the combined choruses of Brigham Young University:


Like Daniel in the den of lions, we sometimes find ourselves in desperate, seemingly impossible situations from which we cannot extract ourselves on our own. When we think of such situations like that of Daniel, we must remember the King’s response when God delivered Daniel:

Daniel 6:27

He [the God of Daniel] delivers and rescues, and he works signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who has delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.

In thinking about the record of Daniel in the lion’s den, the words of a Black Spiritual also raise an important question:

Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel, deliver Daniel, Deliver Daniel?
Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel? Then why not every man?

“Hand upon the Plow” gives account in poetry of a number of instances where God came to the rescue of Daniel and other believers:

Hand upon the Plow

Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand
to the plow and looks back [to the things behind
is fit for the kingdom of God.
Luke 9:62

“Keep your hand on the plow, hold on!”
–Black Spiritual

When life ain’t like it spose to be,
Right then and there it occurs to me
Folks been in fixes worse than me,
Right in the Bible where I see:

The Lord will make a way somehow.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

Pharaoh said, “Kill each Hebrew boy,”
But Moses’ Ma was full of joy
Cause Pharaoh’s daughter raised her boy.
The Lord will make a way somehow.

The lions looked so lean and thin
When they throwed Daniel in the den,
But Old Man Daniel didn’t bend.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

When Jesus died, God paid the cost
And at that time all seem like lost,
But God planned ahead for Pentecost.
The Lord will make a way somehow.

Paul and Silas didn’t rant and wail
When they throwed both of them in jail.
They called on God, and He didn’t fail.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

When troubles start to buggin you
Remember, there’s just one thing to do:
Look to God and He’ll see you through.
What he did for them, He’ll do for you.

The Lord will make a way somehow.
Just keep your hand upon the plow.

From Stone upon Stone: Psalms of Remembrance

During times of intense pressure when I forget just how faithful God has been, He gently comforts and reminds with these words:

Listen to Me
Isaiah 46:3-4
Listen to me. Open your ears and clearly hear
I have always been there. Though you had not perceived
My presence in the wasteland, I was ever near.
Indeed, I knew you before you were first conceived.
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He
Who still holds you and causes you to remember.
I open deaf ears and cause blinded eyes to see
The passion that consumes your soul was once an ember.
Though I seem to be delayed, I will not tarry
But will return for the faithful ones who remain:
Those whom I have made those I will also carry;
Those whom I have called by name I will sustain.
Rest in me: I will perform all I said to do.
Know that I will sustain you and will rescue you.

Every Halloween when I recall my friend who found himself in a horrific situation and called out to his father or whenever I find myself in a horrible mess, generally of my own making, I am also reminded of this truth that when I cry out, my Heavenly Father will come “to the rescue.”

When I recall the circumstances from which God rescued me, many times I am overwhelmed with gratitude, as I shudder to think when I might be if He had not intervened in such a dramatic manner. In reflecting upon God’s intervention, I composed this poem which I use to conclude this blog.

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 offers her testimony in song with a selection with the same title: “If it Had Not Been for the Lord.”