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What would have happened “if the Lord had not been on our side” (Psalm 124:2)?

if the Lord had not been on our side

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” asks the apostle Paul in Romans 8:31. With God in our corner, we are more than conquerors. In the face of every threat, believers can rest secure knowing that the Lord promises to be with us, defend us, and give us victory in His name. By contrast, without the Lord, we are utterly helpless. This is the message worshipers voice as they praise God together with David in Psalm 124: “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” (verses 2–5).

David understood the difference God’s presence had made in his life. Through a living relationship with the Lord, David gained the confidence to confront the Philistines and say, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? . . . This I know, that God is for me” (Psalm 56:3–4, 9, ESV).

With hypothetical musing, David explains, “If the Lord had not been on our side,” then disaster would have surely befallen Israel. If God had not been their defender, protector, and deliverer against every enemy, then the people would have been defeated, destroyed, completely “swept away,” and “swallowed alive” (cf. Jeremiah 51:34).

In Psalm 124:2–5, the attacking armies, their flaring anger, the engulfing flood, the sweeping torrent, and the raging waters all represent the hostility and overwhelming power of Israel’s enemies. David compares these enemies to a wild animal with gnashing teeth or a hunter who has set his trap (Psalm 124:6–7). But with God on our side, “the trap is broken, and we are free! Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:7–8, NLT).

It is beneficial for believers to look back and consider what our lives would have been like if the Lord had not been on our side. Such reflections should fill us with profound thankfulness and a sense of indebtedness for God’s divine deliverance. Like David, we ought to be mindful of God’s gracious gifts of protection and defense and praise Him wholeheartedly: “Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:2–4, NLT).

If the Lord had not been on our side, we would never have come to know His great love, mercy, grace, kindness, and freedom revealed to us through the redemption of Jesus Christ. In Him we now live, move, and have our existence (Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:13–14; Acts 17:28; John 3:16). Now we can face each day with confidence, knowing God has promised never to leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 4:31; 31:6, 8; Joshua 1:5; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). The Lord is always beside us, encamped around us, and fighting for us.

If the Lord had not been on our side, we would never have known deliverance from sin, Satan, death, and hell, which are our greatest enemies. Satan has no power over Jesus Christ (John 14:30), “who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4). Jesus came to destroy Satan’s work (1 John 3:8) and “break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying” (Hebrews 2:14–15, NLT).

The devil and all his evil forces were disarmed by Christ’s “victory over them on the cross” (Colossians 2:15). We no longer must fear death because Jesus conquered the power of death. God now dwells with us in Christ, and nothing can separate us from His love: “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39, NLT). In the end, every enemy of God will be destroyed, including the final enemy—death (1 Corinthians 15:24–26).

God is our only hope in this life and in the life to come. If we try to make it without Him, we are destined to fail. Like David, we acknowledge that “unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death” (Psalm 94:17). But nothing can stop us or harm us if we have God on our side.

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What would have happened “if the Lord had not been on our side” (Psalm 124:2)?
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This page last updated: December 13, 2022