Daybreak: Psalms 124:1 through 129:8
“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:8)
As Christians, part of our walk with God — and one of the ways we grow spiritually — is going through periods of trial. Some time ago, I faced
a prolonged situation that not only caused emotional pain, but began to affect me physically as well. As it began to weigh me down, I turned to the
Lord regarding the matter. He answered my prayers and encouraged me in a simple yet effective way.
I have the privilege of being an usher, and as God’s people entered the sanctuary before each service, God would remind me of their testimonies. He had
delivered one from addiction to drugs. Another had received a miraculous healing just recently. One had a spouse leave the marriage, but was continuing
to serve God faithfully.
Meeting after meeting, week after week, and finally stretching into months, this quiet encouragement continued. Through it, God guided me to an understanding
that He was taking me through my trial, even though the situation was painful and seemed to last a long time. He had helped all of these others, and
He certainly was not overlooking my troubles! Gradually I began thinking less about the situation I was in, and more about God’s goodness, faithfulness,
and power to help. After a time, I realized that God had used this source of encouragement to completely deliver me from the effects of that trial.
In today’s focus verse, David expressed a truth that he had proved in his own personal life: our help is in God. This psalm may have been written after
David had twice defeated the Philistines in the Valley of Rephaim (as recorded in 2 Samuel 5:17-25). The Philistines were Israel’s most powerful enemy,
but when David looked to God, he found the help he needed to go against them and win the victory.
Our enemy will not be an army of Philistine soldiers, but whatever it is, we must not be bound by fear nor overcome by the trial we face. As we trust in
God and look to Him for help and strength, we will find that He will protect, deliver, and bless us. No challenge is too difficult for the Lord “who
made heaven and earth.” We can always find help in Him!
These six psalms are a portion of Book V, sometimes referred to as the “Deuteronomy Book,” which centers on the importance of God and His Word. They are
also included in the fifteen “Songs of Degrees” (Psalms 120-134) related to Israel’s return from captivity.
Psalm 124 is a song of praise for deliverance which is ascribed to David. The psalmist acknowledged that without God on their side, Israel would have been
overcome by its enemies. The phrase “then they had swallowed us up quick” indicates his certainty that the people would have been immediately devoured
had it not been for God’s intervention. The metaphor of water in verses 4-5 pictures Israel’s enemies as an overwhelming flood, inferring that Israel
would have gone under in defeat without God’s help. The phrase “a prey to their teeth” (verse 6) could be translated, “a prey for them to devour.”
The security of God’s defense is the theme of Psalm 125. The author is not cited for this song of lament. In the first two verses, “Mount Zion” was a symbol
of stability and endurance in Old Testament times, and the mountains “round about Jerusalem” were emblematic of God’s protection for His people. Two
types of people are described in verses 4-5: “those that be good” are contrasted with those who “turn aside unto the crooked ways.” The psalmist concluded
with the assurance that God’s peace would be granted to His chosen people.
Although the author and time frame of Psalm 126 is uncertain, most scholars believe it was a song of thanksgiving and rejoicing for Judah’s restoration
from Babylonian captivity after the decree of Cyrus made that possible. Verses 1-3 convey that the captives’ joyous return to Jerusalem was so momentous
it seemed like a dream; even the heathen proclaimed that God had done great things for the Jewish people. In verse 4, the psalmist pleaded for God
to bring back the remaining exiles who had been left behind in Babylon. The “streams in the south” was a reference to the dry streambeds in the Negev
region of Southern Palestine, which became torrential rivers during the rainy season; he longed for God to flood Zion with the residual captives in
Babylon. The well-known adage in verse 5, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,” indicates that while planting and tending crops often involves
sweat and tears, the resulting harvest is well worth the effort.
Psalm 127 is attributed to Solomon and focuses on the importance of relying on God, and the blessings of family. Because it deals with the issues of practical
daily life, it is classified as a wisdom psalm. Verses 1-2 emphasize that both personal and civic endeavors are ineffective without God’s help, and
that days of toil are valueless if one does not depend on God for daily needs. Verses 3-6 establish that children are a gift from God and gratifying
to their parents; in society of that day, offspring were a source of security and protection in their parents’ elderly years. “They shall speak with
the enemies in the gate” indicated that sons would represent their fathers in the city gate, where most business was conducted, in order to see that
their fathers’ interests were protected.
In Psalm 128, the psalmist extolled the rewards of revering God and walking in His ways. He proclaimed that the man who reverenced God would live peaceably
and securely, and would enjoy the fruit of his labors. His wife would be like a thriving and productive vine, and his children would be as plentiful
as the ever-producing olive plant. He stated that the man who feared God would reap blessings from Jerusalem (the earthly dwelling place of God). In
a time when early death was common, the godly man would enjoy a lengthy life, and would experience the pleasure of knowing his grandchildren. “Peace
upon Israel” was a benediction.
Psalm 129 was an anonymous song of thanksgiving for God’s preservation of Israel. Although the nation had been assailed by adversaries, those adversaries
had been unsuccessful in triumphing over God’s people. In verse 3, the psalmist used the analogy of fields being furrowed by plowmen to illustrate
how the nation of Israel had been scourged by enemies. The phrase “cut asunder the cords of the wicked” referred to the cords connecting plowmen to
their oxen, and inferred that a just God had severed the “cords” of Israel’s enemies to render their efforts ineffective.
In verse 6, the psalmist referred to the fact that wild grass often sprouted on the sod roofs of houses in Palestine, but the shallow depth of soil
and the heat of the sun caused the grass to wither and die before it reached maturity. The psalmist asked God to make the efforts of Israel’s enemies
as unproductive as the withered grass which never reached the stage of maturity where it could be bound into sheaves. It was customary for people to
express blessings to one another, but verse 8 implies that this blessing would not be extended to the wicked.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines – Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Book I (1:1 — 41:13)
II. Book II (42:1 — 72:20)
III. Book III (73:1 — 89:52)
IV. Book IV (90:1 — 106:48)
V. Book V (107:1 — 150:6)
A Closer Look
- In Psalm 125, what did the psalmist say would not “rest upon the lot of the righteous”? What do you think this meant to Israel?
- How would you explain the statement found in Psalm 126:5, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy”?
- In reference to Psalm 124, in what circumstances of life has the Lord been on your side and brought deliverance? How might you be able to share that
event with someone else with the goal of encouraging that one in a time of trial?
No problem is beyond God’s ability to solve. When we acknowledge Him as the psalmist did, we will find that “the Lord, who made heaven and earth” will