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IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR THE LORD

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We are thankful God has brought us through thus far and, we trust, will continue to bless us on our journeys despite how difficult the road may be.
Psalm 120-134 is a special grouping of Psalms which the Israelites sung when they were journeying up to Jerusalem. These Psalms were called “the Song of Ascent” and each of the Psalms begin with that superscription. These Psalms were sung for God’s people as they were on the difficult journey to Jerusalem. Even on that difficult journey, all the Psalms are hopeful and perhaps even joyful.
This distinctive collection of psalms vividly anticipates the movement of God’s people toward the permanently established focal point of their worship in Mount Zion, in fulfillment of the covenantal promise to David concerning a permanent dwellingplace for God’s house. Each of these psalms is entitled “A song of ascents” (שִׁׄיר הַֽמַּ֫עֲל֥וֹת). The phrase has been interpreted as referring to the fifteen steps leading up to the temple in Jerusalem, to a literary connection moving step by step through the fifteen psalms, or to the ascent of pilgrims to Jerusalem, either during the three annual feasts (cf. Deut. 16:16) or as the Israelites returned from exile to their own land (cf. Ps. 126:1). There seems to be no good reason not to understand the phrase as arising out of both the annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the return to Jerusalem from the exile.[1]
Furthermore, the collection of Psalms here (Psalm 120-134) has a symmetrical design with Psalm 127 at the center. “This arrangement of fifteen individual psalms in a symmetrical form with seven psalms balancing one another on either side of a centralized focal psalm cannot be purely accidental, any more than the weights at either extremity of a tightrope walker’s pole “just happen” to balance one another.”[2] In Psalm 124, the reader is still on the journey looking up with anticipation to the house that God has built.
Psalm 124 is where we are. We are looking up to God with anticipation to being in his house. We can’t wait to be together, but for now, we are on the journey he has set before us. Psalm 124 focuses our heart on God’s providence—the anchor of our souls. We are not alone on this journey. We may be many or few in our plights, but we are all with Christ in everything who, as the blessed Head, looks down on his sacred body and continues to live with us and in us as we live with him and in him.
So, we gladly take up our journey with Christ to glory. On the path there will be hardship, but the way of the cross leads home. To that home we go and on that home we focus. “The toils of the road will seem as nought”

THERE IS EVIL, BUT THERE IS HOPE

Psalm 124:1–5 ESV
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 people rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us; then over us would have gone the raging waters.
God’s presence is deliverance. “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people” (Psalm 125:2). Benjamin received the following blessing: “ “The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.”[3]
God’s delivering presence was highlighted during the Exodus. It was at that time that the men of Egypt rose up against God’s people. The water of the Red Sea congealed on either side of the Israelites so that they were not engulfed. They were delivered. They were redeemed by the Lord’s strong arm. God is a redeeming and saving God.
2 Kings 6 records how the king of Syria surrounded Elisha and the city of Dothan to capture him. The king sent “horses and chariots and a great army, and they came by night and surrounded the city” (2 Kings 6:14). It was a scary scene to see first thing in the morning. Elisha’s servant saw them and ran back to his master and said, “What shall we do?” (6:15). Elisha said, “Do not be afraid for those who are with us are more than those who are with them’ Then Elisha prayed and said, ‘ O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.’ So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha” (6:17). I pray God would open our eyes to see his angelic host surrounding us to execute God’s providential plans. Fear would be overtaken by confident faith.

WE WILL STILL WORSHIP

6 "Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us to be torn by their teeth.
7 Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper;
The snare is broken and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.”
“Redeemed how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.” Verses 6-8 fall into the theme of narrow escapes which are prevalent in Scripture. All seems lost, but God redeems.
In 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 Paul said, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.”

WE CONTINUE TO LOOK TO JESUS UNTIL OUR JOURNEY IS COMPLETED.

Our God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption through his blood” (Co. 1:13-14). Our God still says to us, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you” (Acts 18:9-10).
As was mentioned at the beginning of this lesson, Psalm 127 was, through literary devices, set at the center of this collection of Psalms like a crown jewel. That Psalm teaches us about the certainty and blessings God’s people enjoy in God.
Psalm 127:1–5 CSB
Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain. In vain you get up early and stay up late, working hard to have enough food— yes, he gives sleep to the one he loves. Sons are indeed a heritage from the Lord, offspring, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons born in one’s youth. Happy is the man who has filled his quiver with them. They will never be put to shame when they speak with their enemies at the city gate.
How blessed Christians are to be the house built by him and for him. We “come to him, a living stone-rejected by people but chosen and honored by God—you yourselves, as living stones, a spiritual house, are being built to be a holy priesthood to offer sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
[1] O. Palmer Robertson, The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015), 210.
[2] O. Palmer Robertson, The Flow of the Psalms: Discovering Their Structure and Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2015), 212.
[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Dt 33:12.
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