This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
The Great Escape!
Meditation on Psalm 124: 6,7,8
Blessed be the LORD, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
The title of this meditation might sound like the escape of a person out of a prison or a soldier escaping from the clutches of the enemy army. I think of my father’s imprisonment by the German army when they invaded the Netherlands in World War II. He and several of the prisoners were able to escape the prison before they would have been taken away to one the German work (death) camps. The Holy Spirit led David to write this psalm, probably after his son Absalom with many followers pursued him over the Jordan River, and the LORD gave David a great victory over his enemies.
The church in this world is surrounded by enemies. There is first of all our own sinful flesh, which we have to fight against every day. Second, there is the world that is not a friend to grace, but hates and pursues the followers of Jesus. Third, our “adversary the devil, like a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” Apart from divine support, the church of Christ would quickly fall before its raging enemies. Several examples are given in this psalm. The enemies are like a hungry animal, ready to eat us up like a little morsel of meat. The wicked are like the undertow of Lake Michigan, which would suck the swimmer under and away from shore, or like a tsunami wave that wipes out complete villages. The last example in the psalm is that of a professional trapper in the woods who snares his prey in his net.
What kinds of snares are set before you to catch you unawares? Great are the temptations of our sinful flesh: sexual lust, greed, pride, worldliness, drunkenness, bitterness, anger, and revenge. There are the snares of the world with flattery, pleasure, attention, or the threat of violence, ridicule, persecution, and death. Satan has a whole legion of demons with him who has had 6000 years of practice at seducing, tempting, and deceiving God’s saints. How can the church stand up to such power? How are you and I able individually to withstand them? The only reason the people of God continue in this world is the almighty power of their God. His strength is all sufficient. What would the people of God have been like if the Lord was not on their side?
Enoch, prophesying against the wickedness in his day, would have been killed if God had not translated him up to heaven. Noah and his family were the lone survivors when God saved him and his family with a flood. Israel would have been left under Pharaoh’s cruel slavery and the death of all their male infants in the time of Moses except for the Lord’s ten plagues against Egypt.. Unless the LORD fought for Israel against the Canaanites, the thick walls of the cities and the giants of the land would not have been conquered. The Midianites swarmed the land of Israel in the time of Gideon, but with the Lord on their side, Gideon with only 300 Israelites won a decisive battle and routed the enemy. So we can continue to go through the history of the church. Over against the cruelty of the Roman Catholic Church, the Protestants were imprisoned, tortured, and put to death. But nothing was able to stop God’s reformation of His church!
The LORD changes not, nor does His compassion fail. He is on our side. We might despair when we see the world that we live in grow increasingly wicked and ferocious, and in the church we see great apostasy, slander, and schism. But our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth. His purpose is to save us alive. We must confess, “If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when wicked men rose up against us: Then they had swallowed us up quick.” This is the believers’ confidence. God is on His throne. If God is for us, who can be against us? Believers can rejoice in the promise of Jesus Christ, “ I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. All authority belongs to our Christ. We are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us. All the power of our sinful flesh, the world, and Satan and his host cannot destroy the church because the infinite strength of the Creator defends and helps us. “Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” This verse is used in many Reformed churches to open their worship services.
Looking at the unrest today in the world and even in the church, what comfort to say, “Our help in in the name of Jehovah who made heaven and earth.” He is on our side! We are escaped from the hands and plots of our enemies.
Now Israel may say, and that in truth, If that the Lord had not our right maintained, If that the Lord had not with us remained, Wen cruel men against us rose to strive, We surely had been swallowed up alive.”
“Blest be the Lord who made us not their prey; As from the snare a bird escapeth free, Their net is rent and so escaped are we. Our only help is in Jehovah’s name, Who made the earth and all the heavenly frame. Louis Bourgeois, 1551