Psalm 124

Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-04-17 11:26.

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As the Israelites would go up to Jerusalem for worship, they likely sang this “song of ascents” and others that are so designated. The psalm is attributed to David, but there is nothing in the contents to link it to any period or event in his life.

The apparent reference is to a time when the Israelites faced a serious military threat. Without YHWH’s aid, they would have suffered humiliating defeat.

The psalmist encouraged the Israelites to acknowledge that, without YHWH on their side, those rising up against them would have swallowed them alive. The situation proved to be as dangerous as seismic activity during which large cracks form, swallowing up whoever might plunge into them.

When the anger of the enemy was burning against them, the Israelites faced a danger comparable to powerful floodwaters that could have swept them away or to a swift torrent that could have overwhelmed them. There would have been no escape from the raging waters.

The psalmist blessed YHWH or expressed gratitude for having come to the rescue. He had not allowed the enemies to use their “teeth” on the people as do wild beasts when devouring their prey. The desperate situation of the Israelites was like that of a bird caught in a snare. But they escaped like a bird that flies to freedom when the trap breaks.

The psalmist concludes with the acknowledgment that the “name of YHWH” (YHWH himself, the One represented by the name) is the source of help for the Israelites. As the Maker of “heaven and earth,” the dome-like sky and the land area known to the psalmist, YHWH’s ability to provide aid was without limits.


Regarding YHWH, see Psalm 1.

In this psalm (vss. 4, 5, 7), the word néphesh (psyché, Septuagint), with a first person plural suffix, appears three times and means “us” or “we.”