Beckett: The Lord is on My Side

Psalm 118:5-14, Out of my distress I called on Yahweh; Yahweh answered me and set me free.
Yahweh is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
Yahweh is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes.
All nations surrounded me; in the name of Yahweh I cut them off!
They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of Yahweh I cut them off!
They surrounded me like bees; they went out like a fire among thorns; in the name of Yahweh I cut them off!
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but Yahweh helped me.
Yahweh is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.

The psalmist calls out to Yahweh in some sort of distress. This distress is later revealed as being surrounded by enemies, “all nations” (vv. 10-12). In the midst of this siege, the psalmist has assurance that Yahweh is on his side, for he takes refuge in Him. Yahweh his Refuge is the basis for his victory. We are told to fear God, but with God as our refuge, our enemies cannot compare, thus the psalmist fears no man in spite of his being besieged. Yahweh is on his side; he has this promise. The Lord delivered him and thus became his strength and his salvation.

Nehemiah likewise recalls God’s strength and salvation. He recalls who God is to His chosen people, “whom You have redeemed by Your great power and by Your strong hand” (Nehemiah 1:10). God delivers salvation to His people with a mighty hand. This promise gives Nehemiah strength, which enables him to request to King Artaxerxes a temporary leave of absence to return to his homeland Israel. The request is granted, “for the good hand of my God was upon me” (2:8). As God’s child, God was on Nehemiah’s side.

Thus, this promise is for us, too, through Christ. Paul thanks Christ for the strength He has given him, which Christ gave him this strength in spite of his foremost sin as a persecutor (and possible murderer) of the Church (1 Timothy 1:12-13). The reason for this mercy—the basis of which is the forgiveness of sins in Christ—Paul says is to display Christ’s perfect patience for those who believe in Him for eternal life (v. 16).

If God is on the side of the psalmist surrounded by hostile nations, on the side of a lowly cupbearer exiled in Babylon, and Christ is on the side of a former persecutor and murderer of the Church, then how much more God is on our side today. I am not surrounded by hostile nations, I am not a murderer, and I am merely a humble servant of Christ as a vicar who is entering the Pastoral Office. Certainly, God is on my side in any day of trouble, no matter what that day may be. Whether that day be time in a hospital, during a car accident, great illness or physical distress, spiritual distress, or in my old age, God is on my side. God is on your side no matter the circumstances.

This is His promise for all His people since the days of old. God who delivered the psalmist from besieging nations is the same God who delivers us from our sins and the wiles of the Devil that besiege us, who through the mercy of Christ redeems us from such things and is on our side into eternal life. This is most certainly true.

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