Saturday, August 04, 2007

"Our help is in the name of the Lord" (Psalm 124)

Had it not been the Lord who was on our side, let Israel now say,
Had it not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us;
Then they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger was kinded against us.
Then the waters would have engulfed us,
The stream would have swept over our soul;
Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul.

Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird out of the snare of the trapper;
The snare is broken and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

- Psalm 124

Here we humble ourselves by confronting and repudiating the pride of life. Like Lamech the sixth from Cain, we like to show the world that we're kickass, that our assailants have messed with the wrong person. But here the sheep in the midst of wolves takes notice that his assailants were too much for him and that they were the wrong people to mess with according to the flesh. He survived only because God was the wrong person to mess with.

Now the pride of life regroups. Now we can say we're special because God was on our side. But that's nothing special about us. God is on the side of people that are prey, because he is against people who are their predators. He may back up those that have wronged us if we find in that wrong an excuse to prey on them, or even if we rejoice in their fall as though their misfortune, rather than God himself, is our salvation (Proverbs 24:17).

There's nobody like a predator and violent aggressor to brag that God is with him in his aggression and pillage. The SS belt buckles said "Gott Mitt Uns" - "God With Us" - and I'm sure they were convinced it was true. The wanton aggression against Iraq, so like the German invasion of Poland in 1939 in its lying and in its effects on human beings, was likewise accompanied by enthusiatic assertions that it was God's will.

"Christians" led the way in this delusion, like their fathers in this world-loving nationalistic "faith" - so at enmity with God - who in 1914 cheered on the suckers that eagerly marched off to World War 1. The butchers of Fallujah in 2004 "worshipped" to "Christian" music before driving 250,000 civilians into the winter cold and slaughtering thousands more, even with white phosphorous and Mark-77 napalm bombs.

Jesus said that he sends us out into the world as prey - sheep among wolves - not predators. We have to hope in God who made the heavens and the earth, as Joshua's army trusted at Gilgal in the midst of their enemies when they were completely helpless after being circumcised.

People ought to be afraid of God's truth in our lives - and so should we - but not of our guns and our wrath. God stands against predators, because God resists the proud, and one who gives himself the authority to plunder and dominate others is always exalting himself, always proud.

Here in Psalm 124 we humble ourselves to hope in God and in his deliverance because of his character, not to rejoice in our prowess or our imagined virtue which we think is why God is with us. If we truly abase ourselves before the truth in this way, we will be exalted as Jesus said. We're again being shown the way down which leads up. Psalm 124 is indeed a Song of Ascents.

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