IF IT WERE NOT FOR יהוה!!! - Psalm 124

Shabbat Shalom family,

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 13:5-6 “Let your way of life be without the love of money, and be satisfied with what you have. For He Himself has said, “I shall never leave you nor forsake you,” 6 so that we boldly say, “יהוה is my helper, I shall not fear what man shall do to me.

In a fast-paced, and highly stressful world, the overwhelming circumstances of critical needs and wants sadly causes the majority of people to not be satisfied with what they have. What is even more frightening to consider is how there are many believers today who have the same attitude as the rest of the unbelieving world, as they get entangled by the daunting pressures of life and the deceitfulness of wealth that chokes out the Word of Truth, causing fear and doubt to set in. Here in Iḇ’rim, the instruction is very clear – our lives should not be consumed by what money can buy, but rather we are to be satisfied with what we have, for we have יהוה and His priceless Word! When we allow His word to truly satisfy us, our belief ought to be expressed in a very bold manner by declaring the Truth that יהוה is our Helper, and we do not fear what man may do to us! While many may verbally declare this truth with their lips during highly stressful times, more often than not it is not being said with boldness, and render this confession as nought when true boldness of faith is lacking! How many of you have often said, either loudly or in your thoughts, that יהוה is your helper? And of those times you have said it – how many times did you say it boldly, with great strength and courage? As you all sit here, I am sure that you all can give many testimonies of how יהוה has helped you in so many ways that can often seem uncountable, yet sadly there still comes times when, despite your confession and acknowledgment of this fact, doubts and fears have a way of crushing one’s spirit in the toughest of situations – is this not so? Well, we need to be reminded that this should not be the case as we stand firm in our bold confession of our great Helper and deliverer! And in order for us to be reminded of this on a daily basis, I would like us to learn some valuable insight from a great song of Dawiḏ.

In a message tonight called, ‘IF IT WERE NOT FOR יהוה!!!’, I would like us to look at Tehillim/Psalm 124, and see the great power of this great song of praise for our Helper, יהוה, the maker of the heavens and the earth!

Turn with me to Tehillim/Psalm 124 (Read)

Have you ever contemplated where you would be if it were not for יהוה being on your side?

Romiyim/Romans 8:31 “What then shall we say to this? If Elohim is for us, who is against us?

Here in this Tehillim 124 Dawiḏ begins by contemplating where he would be without the help of יהוה;

The title of this Psalm is called - שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת לְדָוִד –‘shir hama’alot l’Dawi’, which is best translated as:

A song of degrees/steps/ascents of Dawiḏ’. Tehillim/Psalms 120-134 are all titled as ‘A song of degrees’, with Psalms 122,124,131 and 133 all being ‘of Dawiḏ’; and these Psalms are believed to have been songs that were sung by those who travelled to Yerushalayim each year to the Feasts of יהוה. The two root words are - שִׁיר shir – Strong’s H7892 which means, song, music, musical and מַעֲלָה ma’alah – Strong’s H4609 which means, what comes up, steps, high degree, ascends, stairway, and comes from the primitive root verb עָלָה alah – Strong’s H5927 meaning, to go up, ascend, climb, approach, go; and when one also recognises how a derivative of this root verb is the word עֹלָה olah – Strong’s H5930 meaning, whole burnt offering, ascent, staircase, stairway. The olah offering represents a giving totally of oneself to יהוה, and these songs express the true worship of the true worshippers of Elohim who confidently place their trust in Him, and offer up their entire lives as a living sacrifice, having the sound of continual songs of praise on their lips, declaring their steadfast trust in יהוה. These are not just simple words randomly sung in a hope to feel confident – they are songs of ascending praise to the One in whom we are to put our trust. Dawiḏ, as I am sure you know means, Beloved - דָּוִד  - Strong’s H1732, and therefore we have here as the title of Tehillim/Psalm 124 as ‘A Song of steps of the beloved’, and therefore we are able to recognise how we all, as beloved servants of the Most High, ought to be singing this song, especially as we contemplate where we would be if it were not for יהוה.

As Dawiḏ begins this song by contemplating where he would have been without the help of יהוה, it is almost as though he interrupts himself and calls for all Yisra’ĕl to contemplate with him and affirm the truth that he was about to ascribe in praise of the wonderful help that יהוה is for us, his beloved set-apart Bride!

This song is a constant reminder that we owe our continued existence to יהוה’s help, in the face of the most horrendous encounters!

We often need to be ‘shocked’ into realising the debt of gratitude we owe to יהוה for our existence, as His set-apart nation is constantly being threatened; and the only cause of our existence, is not in our own strength or our own doing, but is solely because of יהוה’s direct help! In this song, Dawiḏ makes this very clear as he uses 3 vivid metaphors, and in doing so he makes the disasters that may have occurred become more real to us as individuals, as well as a body together!

We will look at some of the Hebrew root words contained in this song, to help us realise the great help יהוה is. Dawiḏ compares our enemies to wild beasts that swallow their prey whole, as well to wild, raging flood waters; and also as a hunter and his cruel trap. Like a bird that has been caught in a trap and escapes, is the blessing Dawiḏ ascribes to יהוה for our deliverance from the enemies grip!

This song is a call for the beloved of יהוה to say, “If it had not been יהוה who was on our side!”… And this is what I am calling for tonight! While I recognise that this statement can be a sure realisation of the existence that I still have, I am calling on all of us to say, “If it were not for יהוה!” – Why? – So that you too can realise the joy of the existence we all have in Him, and together be able to ascend the due praise to our Most High Help – יהוה our Elohim!

As we go through this short song may the urgency to praise Him be stirred in our hearts and minds, and be boldly expressed in our actions and words, aměn!

In Verse 2 Dawiḏ begins to express how powerful the help of יהוה is, and he begins this recognition in the daunting reality of when men rose up against us. This in itself is a clear picture of the wickedness and depravity of man that seeks only to consume the Beloved of יהוה alive, with no regard or care for our suffering! In the account of Haḏassah/Esther, Haman is a clear prophetic picture of the wickedness of wicked men who rose up against a set-apart people, and we know that he had 10 sons which is also a very prophetic picture of the enemies counterfeit plans of destroying the true set-apart ones.

In verse 3 Dawiḏ describes what would have happened if it were not for the help of יהוה. The Hebrew root word used here for ‘swallowed’ is בָּלַע bala – Strong’s H1104 which means, to swallow up, engulf, brought to confusion, ruined, consume, destroy. If it were not for יהוה, we who are all sitting here, could easily have been ‘brought to confusion’ and ‘ruined’ by the corrupt wickedness of man! We also realise from this that the disobedient of some can often have a negative effect on the body, as compromise can cause a breach in the wall, so to speak, causing confusion to ruin and destroy the witness of others – yet what we, who hold fast to the truth, can boldly declare, “If it were not for יהוהthe repairer of the Breach!

The enemy seeks to kill and destroy, and will stop at nothing in his attempt to do so; and Dawiḏ says that the wicked would have swallowed us up ‘in their burning rage against us’. The Hebrew root word used here for ‘burning’ is חָרָה ḥarah – Strong’s H2734 meaning, to burn or be kindled with anger, wroth, hot with anger, and the root word for ‘rage’ is אַף aph – Strong’s H639 which means, a nostril, nose, face, anger, and this word is frequently used as a reference to the anger of both men and Elohim; and anger is often expressed in the appearance of the nostrils that dilate in anger. This word comes from the root verb אָנַף anaph – Strong’s H599 which means, to be angry, become angry. Anger and rage can swallow up the life of another, and we are called to guard against allowing any anger or rage to be evident in our lives, lest we find our anger consuming another!

The Greek word used here in the LXX (Septuagint – Greek translation of Tanak)for ‘rage’ is ὀργίζω orgizō – Strong’s G3710 and means, to make angry, enraged, moved with anger, and comes from the word ὀργή orgē – Strong’s G3709 which means, impulse, wrath, anger.

We find this word ὀργή orgē used in:

Timotiyos Aleph/1 Timothy 2:8 “So I resolve that the men pray everywhere, lifting up hands that are set-apart, without wrath and disputing.

The Greek word for ‘disputing’ is διαλογισμός dialogismos – Strong’s G1261 which means, reasonings, arguments, disputing, speculations’. This is a very powerful instruction we are to take heed of – and that is that we are to be lifting up hands and praising יהוה, without impulsive anger that disputes and argues for the sake of arguing! Some people today just like to stir up unnecessary debates, perhaps because their own hands are not ‘lifted up and set-apart’. By that I mean the following: Hands in Scripture speak of one’s work and actions, and to have lifted up set-apart hands also speaks of one’s life being lived out in pure devotion to Elohim, through living uncompromised set-apart lives. Messiah told us that the one who put his hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom; and so we recognise that when one’s actions are not reflective of true set-apartness then fitness for the kingdom is in jeopardy! Often we find that those who stir up impulsive heated debates are simply doing so because their own lives are riddled with compromise, and by stirring up disputes, silly reasonings and vain speculations, they are simply diverting the reality of their own depravity away from themselves! When they do this they become impulsively angered and will even neglect fellowship as a result. When we lift up devoted set-apart hands we are to put away all worthless rage and wrath:

Eph’siyim/Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and displeasure, and uproar, and slander be put away from you, along with all evil.

Qolasim/Colossians 3:8 “But now, also put off all these: displeasure, wrath, evil, blasphemy, filthy talk from your mouth.

We are to put these off, for these are the weapons of the enemy, and if we are not careful to put these off, we may find that the enemy uses us as instruments in his wicked hand, that seeks to consume and swallow up the righteous!

If it were not for יהוה we would be unable to put off the ‘angry armour’ of the enemy, yet we, as a royal priesthood, have been given the armour of Elohim to put on, and are clearly instructed that when we clothe ourselves in His Torah we are able to put on the right attitude and right spirit toward one another:

Qolasim/Colossians 3:12-13 “Therefore, as chosen ones of Elohim, set-apart and beloved, put on compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, patience, 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other if anyone has a complaint against another, indeed, as Messiah forgave you so also should you.

If it were not for יהוה our speech would not have been changed, and if it were not for יהוה we would not be able to endure such wickedness that is spoken out against us!

In verse 4-5 Dawiḏ then uses the metaphor of a raging flood, and the Hebrew root word translated here as ‘overwhelmed’ is שָׁטַף shataph – Strong’s H7857 which means, overflow, wash off, engulfed, overwhelming, washed away’. This word is usually used as a figure of speech in reference to judgement, and more specifically to Elohim’s judgement on His people. The ‘positive’ side of this word is seen in:

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 66:12 “For thus said יהוה, “See, I am extending peace to her like a river, and the esteem of the gentiles like a flowing stream. And you shall feed; you shall be carried on the side, and be fondled on her knees.

If it were not for יהוה who is on our side, we would be overwhelmed, engulfed and washed away in judgement, just as the inhabitants of the earth were in the days of Noaḥ. We who have entered His rest, and continue to do so through loving obedience to His commands, and stay in Him, shall be protected from the overwhelming waters of destruction, and will rather be found to be overwhelmed by His immense blessing upon us!

As we will be going through the account of the flood tomorrow in our Torah reading from Berěshith/Genesis 6:9-11:32, the imagery of flood waters reminds us of the praise we have for our Help, יהוה our Elohim, in whom we find our rest!

Berěshith/genesis 7:18 “And the waters were mighty and greatly increased on the earth, and the ark moved about on the surface of the waters.

The term translated as ‘moved about’ is from the root word הָלַךְ halaḵ - Strong’s H1980 which carries the meaning, ‘to walk, to live, manner of life, cause to live’ and literally speaks of how one lives. In a manner of speaking we could render this as, ‘the ark walked on the waters’! This is a very powerful prophetic shadow picture of the Ark representing יהושע Messiah, in whom we find our refuge amidst the ‘flooding waters of life’!

When the talmidim of Messiah were being tossed about on the stormy waters יהושע Messiah went to them, walking on the waters:

Mattithyahu/Matthew 14:24-27 “But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, agitated by the waves, for the wind was against it. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night יהושע went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the taught ones saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a phantom!” And from fear they cried. 27 But immediately יהושע spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid.

If it were not for יהושע Messiah, who walks on the waters – the disciples would have suffered harm! In יהושע Messiah all storms and overwhelming waters have no power to destroy us!

The Hebrew root word for ‘stream’ is נַחְלָה naḥlah – Strong’s H5158 which means, torrent, torrent valley, wadi, brook, ravine, stream, and this usually referred to a dry river bed or ravine, which in rainy season becomes a raging torrent. This can also symbolically represent for us the pride of the nations, the strength of the invader and the power of the enemy which can destroy the parched and dry places. When we are not being continually nourished in the Truth of the living word, and meditating on the Torah so that we are like a tree planted by the waters, we may become like a dry brook that the enemy can flood with his lies and confusion through ‘mainstream traditions’!

This word נַחְלָה naḥlah is also used in the positive sense in describing יהוה’s pleasure over His set-apart ones:

Tehillim/Psalm 36:8 “They are filled from the fatness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.

Here in Tehillim/Psalm 124 we praise יהוה – because if it were not for Him, we would be drowning under the power if the enemy that seeks to engulf his prey with fear, worries and doubt! Have you ever felt so overwhelmed by the onslaught of chaotic circumstances that cause you feel like you are like a sinking ship and are drowning? Well if it were not for יהוה who in on our side, we would drown. As we stay in יהושע Messiah, He stays in us and He calms the raging power of the chaotic seas!

In Verse 5 the Hebrew word for ‘proud’ is זֵידוֹן tseḏon – Strong’s H2121 which means, churning, raging, insolent and comes from the root verb זִיד tsiḏ - Strong’s H2102 which means, to boil up, seethe, act proudly or presumptuously or rebelliously.

The ‘proud waters’ would have gone over our being – the word for ‘being’ is נֶפֶשׁnepheshH5315 which is ‘a soul, a living being, the inner being of a man’.

If it were not for יהוה, the wickedness of pride and rebellion would have gone over our being. This is a picture of those who are directly opposing those who are earnestly seeking to do the will of Elohim, and let me tell you, if it were not for יהוה being on our side, the opposition would pass over or walk all over our inner man and bring raging destruction; yet because of our Passover Lamb - יהושע Messiah – we are safe from the raging waters that pass over the wicked!

In Verse 6 Dawiḏ proclaims ‘blessed be יהוה’, and I want to remind you what this word ‘blessed’ entails, especially in reference to יהוה our Helper! The Hebrew word used here is בָּרוּךְ  – ‘baru– and comes from the root word בָּרַךְ  baraḵ – Strong’s H1288 and means, to abundantly bless and literally carries the meaning, to kneel or bow down, to show respect, to bring a gift to another while kneeling out of respect

In the ancient script the word בָּרוּךְ  – ‘baru is pictured as follows:

kaphwawreshbeit

בָּ – this is the letter ‘beyt’ and is depicted in the ancient pictographic script as beit, which pictures a ‘tent floor plan’ and means, ‘house’ or ‘tent’. It represents family and the importance of those who are inside the tent as opposed to the tent structure itself.

 רַ– this is the letter ‘resh’- which in the ancient script is pictured as  - resh - which is the ‘head of a man’ and carries the meaning of ‘top, beginning, first’ as in being the top of the body or the head of a tribe and the one who rules; and also speaks of possession or inheritance that is decided by the chief.

וּ – this is the letter ‘waw/vav’ and in the ancient script is pictured as - waw, a peg or ‘tent peg’, which was used for securing or tying the tent or other items. The possibility of it having a Y-shape is to show that it prevents the rope from slipping off. The root meaning of this letter is ‘to add, secure or hook’.

ךְ  – this is the latter ‘kaph’ – which in the ancient script is pictured as – kaph – which is a picture of an ‘open palm of a hand’ and can symbolise that to which submission is given – ‘under the hand

When we declare that ‘blessed be יהוה’, we not only submit our lives in reverent obedience and bow our knee in humble worship and acknowledgement of Him as our head, who secures for us His covenant, but we also realise that He Himself has bent His knew toward us and secured His Loving-Commitment to His Covenants of Promise, by His own ‘open Hand’ that took the nail for us and removed the curse, that we can be built up in Him and not be left as prey for the teeth of the enemy!

He has not given us as prey to their teeth! יהושע Messiah made it very clear that unless we ‘eat of Him we have no part in Him’, and this was a specific reference to the eating of the Passover Meal and the keeping of the Feast of Matzot/Unleavened Bread. In Shemoth/Exodus 13:9 & 16 we are told twice that this Feast shall be a sign on our hands and foreheads that we belong to יהוה, and if we do not partake of this Feast, we shall be given over to the ‘feast of the birds and beasts’. Eat or be eaten:

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 1:19-20 If you submit and obey, you shall eat the good of the land; 20 but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword, for the mouth of יהוה has spoken.

The Hebrew word used for ‘eat’ and ‘devoured’ is the same word - אָכַל aḵal – H398 and means ‘eat, consume, devour or be devoured’.  So in essence what is being declared here is simply this: if you submit and obey you will eat and enjoy the good of the land – if you rebel and refuse to submit and obey you will be eaten by the sword and handed over to the teeth of the birds and beasts!!!

If it were not for יהוה, who by His own open Hand, came down and became our Passover Lamb, the enemy would eat us up!

In verse 7 Dawiḏ tells us that we have ‘escaped’ like a bird from a trap. The Hebrew root word used here for ‘escaped’ is מָלַט malat – Strong’s H4422 which means, to slip away, escape, certainly rescue, delivered, saved, and is the same word used to describe how Dawiḏ escaped from the hand of Sha’ul who pressed hard against him in, when he went to Aḏullam as recorded in Shemuʼěl Aleph/1 Samuel 22:1

We also see this word used in:

Tehillim/Psalm 107:20 “He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

 This is a powerful verse in terms of what Dawiḏ is expressing here in saying, ‘If it were not for יהוה’, as we see that יהוה sent His Word, and has healed and delivered us from destruction! We have escaped from destruction like a bird from the trap of a hunter! The Hebrew word for ‘bird’ is צִפּוֹר  - Strong’s H6833 which means, bird, sparrow, and what is interesting to take not of is the feminine of this word is צִפֹּרָה Tsipporah – Strong’s H6855, which was the name of Mosheh’s wife, whom he had rescued from the shepherds when she came to draw water for her flocks at the well!

This is a shadow picture of יהושע Messiah coming down to set His Bride free from the trap of destruction – for it is יהוה who delivers us and sets us free!

Yoḥanan/John 8:36 “If, then, the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Tehillim/Psalm 25:15 “My eyes are ever toward יהוה, for He brings my feet out of the net.

 As we fix our eyes on יהושע Messiah, the Prince and Perfecter of our faith, and guard His commands, we are kept safe from the trap of the enemy:

Tehillim/Psalm 119:110 “The wrong have laid a snare for me, but I have not strayed from Your orders.

In other words, it is in our steadfast obedience amidst the snares of the enemy we face on a daily basis, that we are able to stand firm and not be caught in the traps of destruction! As the enemy tries to entrap us every day, stick to the ‘orders’ of יהוה! The Torah sets us free, it does not enslave us, as so many erroneously believe. The commands and orders of Elohim are easy and light and not burdensome!!!

If it were not for יהוה, who has given us His orders, we would be trapped! He has broken the trap and caused us to escape and be delivered!

Our HELP is in the Name of יהוה!!! The Hebrew word for ‘help’ is עֵזֶר ezer – Strong’s H5828 which means, a help, helper, one who helps and we see this word being used in:

Tehillim/Psalm 121:1-2 “A song of degrees. I lift up my eyes to the hills; Where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from יהוה , Maker of the heavens and earth.

This is the same word that is used to describe Ḥawwah, as a ‘helper’ for Aḏam! Our Husband is our perfect help!

Tehillim/Psalm 146:5 “Blessed is he who has the Ěl of Ya’aqoḇ for his help, whose expectancy is in יהוה his Elohim

Hoshěa/Hosea 13:9 “You have destroyed yourself, O Yisra’ĕl, but your help is in Me.

 

If it were not for יהוה – our Help!!! Our help is in His Name! And all who call upon the Name of יהוה shall be delivered and helped out of their distress! We give thanks, and ought to on a daily basis, to יהוה for delivering us from wicked men and all kinds of disasters that storm around us, and gives us a way out of all situations when there seems to be no way of escape. I encourage you therefore, as this song reminds us, that you must not let your life be depressed by difficult circumstances and follow Dawiḏ’s example of visualising your pressures with a metaphor that will cause you to see how יהוה’s help is sufficient! Are you facing some destruction and devastating circumstances? Are you calling on the Name of יהוה?

עֶזְרֵנוּ בְּשֵׁם יהוה

Ezreynu b’shem יהוה

Our help is in the Name of יהוה

Can you raise up the song of degrees and declare praise unto our Elohim, who is our help?

Now let us all say boldly:

לוּלֵי יהוה שֶׁהָיָה לָנוּ

Luley יהוה shehayah lanu

If it had not been יהוה who was on our side

יהוה bless you and guard you; יהוה make His face shine upon you and show you favour; יהוה lift up His face to you and give you Shalom!