Day Five: He didn’t go off and leave us!

Eugene Peterson’s translation of Psalm 124:

If God hadn’t been for us – all together now, Israel, sing out!
If God hadn’t been for us when everyone went against us,
We would have been swallowed alive by their violent anger,
Swept away by the flood of rage,
drowned in the torrent;
We would have lost our lives in the wild, raging water.
Oh, blessed be God!
He didn’t go off and leave us.
He didn’t abandon us defenseless,
helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs. 
We’ve flow free from their fangs,
Free from their traps, free as a bird.
Their grip is broken; we’re free as a bird in flight.
God’s strong name is our help,
the same God who made heaven and earth.

1 – Find 2 differences between Eugene Peterson’s MSG translation and the NIV.

2 – For each one, consider and share:  What do you think the significance of this difference is? (What do you think Peterson wanted the readers of the MSG translation to understand about the rescue of God?)

3 – Pray according to this “message” you are seeing in the translation differences.  Pray for yourself, your group, and your church.

– BR


Day Four: Who God Is

Psalm 124 (NIV)

If the LORD had not been on our side –
   let Israel say –
if the LORD had not been on our side
   when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
   when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
   the torrent would have swept over us.
The raging waters
   Would have swept us away.
Praise be to the LORD,
   who has not let us be torn by their teeth
We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare;
The snare has been broken,
   and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.

1 – Read through the psalm aloud, declaring the rescue of God freshly in your life (our lives).

2 – Find at least 2 explicit or implicit descriptions of God in Psalm 124.  For each one, consider:

a – How does Psalm 124 depict this characteristic of God?

b – How have you / we experienced God in this way?

c – How does understanding God in this way affect your response to Him in times of trouble, times of pilgrimage, and/or times of worship?

3 – Choose one description (characteristic) of God you have chosen.  In prayer, turn from any other way of seeing Him and declare Who He is and what He is like according to the word of God.  Pray for others to see and experience God in this way.

– BR


Day Three: Rescued from the Fowler’s Snare

Psalm 124:7 (NIV)

We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare;
The snare has been broken,
And we have escaped.

Another image of our rescue and help from the Lord in Psalm 124 is that of a bird is trapped in a snare.  The captured fowl is doomed to be caught (and consumed) until, seemingly inexplicably and impossibly, the snare is broken and the bird is free. Our rescue from God has been like this – the situation may have seemed impossible, final, and even deserved, but when God moves, we are set free in miraculous and unexpected ways.

1 – Consider this imagery and the utterly shocking, unexpected rescue in a seemingly impossible situation that it depicts. When have you and/or your church experienced this kind of rescue by God?

2 – Look at Acts 12:1-17 and discuss together this example of this kind of rescue.

3 – Now look at Acts 16:25-40 and compare to the Acts 12 example.  What is different and what is the same?  Taken together, what do these passages teach us about the purpose of God’s rescue in the lives of His people?

4 – Let’s pray for those in our churches in need of this type of utterly unexpected, yet expected because we prayed, rescue.

– BR


Day Two: Rescued from the Flood

Psalm 124:2-4 (NIV)

If the LORD had not been on our side
When people attacked us,
They would have swallowed us alive
When their anger flared against us;
The flood would have engulfed us,
The torrent would have swept over us,
The raging waters would have swept us away.

One of the images of our rescue and help from the LORD in Psalm 124 is that of a flood (v. 4-5).  Today, we will consider God’s rescue in our lives in this way.

1 – Consider the imageries of the flood, the torrent, and the raging waters that are used in Psalm 124.  What is it like to experience a flood?  (Think about what you have seen of other’s experiences if you haven’t personally experienced this sense of being swept away.)

2 – What in our lives comes upon us and threatens to sweep us away in flood-like ways?

3 – What do you think came to mind for the people of Israel when hearing about a torrent and a flood?  Look at Exodus 14:21-31 and the rescue of Israel from the torrent that engulfed their enemies.  How does this parallel our rescue?

Let’s give thanks to God for rescuing us in such a mighty way, being specific and corporate (for the church) in your thanksgiving.

– BR


Day One: If the Lord had not been on our side…

Psalm 124:8 (NIV) – “Our help is in the name of the LORD, The Maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 124 is special in that it is a song of the people – exhorting Israel to remember the LORD’s rescue of them together, and to say to each other that the LORD has been their help.  Today we will consider what it means that our rescue is together, as His people.

1 – Look at Ephesians 1:3-10.  How does this speak of our rescue together (plural)?

2 – Whereas Psalm 124 speaks in metaphor and simile, Ephesians 1 uses several theological terms to describe our rescue and help from the Lord.  List them and consider/share what most speaks to you today.

3 – How does this passage help you to see the depth of our rescue as plural (to be part of a family of God)?  How would viewing your own personal rescue by God in this plural way more benefit you and your church?

4 – How can you practically live out this declaration of the Lord’s help and rescue of His people?  See if you can think of an answer that is based upon scripture. (For me, Romans 12:9-16, Hebrews 13:1-8, and James 5:14-16 are practical passages.)

– BR