God, the Rescuer of the People
1A song of ascents. Of David.
Had not the LORD been with us,
let Israel say,a
2Had not the LORD been with us,
when people rose against us,
3Then they would have swallowed us alive,b
for their fury blazed against us.
4Then the waters would have engulfed us,
the torrent overwhelmed us;c
5then seething water would have drowned us.
6Blessed is the LORD, who did not leave us
to be torn by their teeth.
7We escaped with our lives like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare was broken,
and we escaped.
8*Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the maker of heaven and earth.d
* [Psalm 124] A thanksgiving which teaches that Israel’s very existence is owed to God who rescues them. In the first part Israel’s enemies are compared to the mythic sea dragon (Ps 124:2b–3a; cf. Jer 51:34) and Flood (Ps 124:3b–5; cf. Is 51:9–10). The Psalm heightens the malice of human enemies by linking them to the primordial enemies of God’s creation. Israel is a bird freed from the trapper’s snare (Ps 124:6–8)—freed originally from Pharaoh and now from the current danger.
* [124:8] Our help is in the name: for the idiom, see Ex 18:4.