“LORD, thank You for being my almighty Defender.”
A Psalm of Thanks
“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.
This psalm is said to have been penned by David upon the occasion of some great deliverance which God wrought for him and his people (in a time of grave, threatening danger). It fits into the Songs of Ascents collection quite well.
As the people journeyed to Jerusalem it would have been natural for them to recall the many instances during their history when Jehovah showed them His faithfulness and love by coming to their rescue “just in the nick of time” (for example, their deliverance from Pharaoh’s armies at the Red Sea, their rescue from the Assyrian armies in the days of Hezekiah, their release from captivity in Babylon, to name a few).
How often Jehovah enabled His people to come out victorious in battle when they were greatly outnumbered, against all odds, when it seemed like there was no way they could win. It was out of gratitude to the Lord for His undeserved mercies in defending them from their enemies that the Jewish pilgrims joined their voices together in singing His praise: “Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.”
Like the Israelites of old, we have wonderful reason to bless the Lord. Many and strong are the enemies which we, the members of the Holy Christian Church, face in this world of sin as we go about our God-given task of heralding the Gospel.
Jesus’ promise, however, is that the gates of hell won’t prevail against it. “The Church shall never perish! Her dear Lord, to defend, to guide, sustain, and cherish, Is with her to the end.” There have been times in the history of the Church when it seemed like the Lord was no longer with His people and the Gospel light would be completely extinguished (as in the days of Luther). But the almighty Lord kept this from happening. He used Luther as His instrument to uncover the Gospel light so it could shine forth brilliantly again. This is but one example.
The same is true in the lives of individual Christians. Our faith is continuously under attack. It would seem that the unholy three of devil, world, and flesh–powerful enemies indeed!–would be too formidable for us to overcome.
This would be true, of course, if we were to rely on our own strength–“if it had not been the LORD who was on our side.” The assurance of this psalm is that He in whom we trust will keep us safe by His power. He will come to our rescue “just in the nick of time” in every trial, in every trouble, so that though we be assailed by them, we will win in the end and keep the victory.