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If, Then, But, Therefore: How Psalm 124 Instructs Us for Thanksgiving  

Psalm 124 is a psalm of corporate thanksgiving, a psalm that instructs us how to thank God together. This psalm also instructs us as to one of the ways for how to thank God as well.1

The psalm was written after having escaped some enemies, perhaps in battle, and assuming the superscription’s accuracy, David was its author.

The headlines below capture the “how” of how David came to bless the Lord, and the explanations under them guide the applications to follow.

If…then….

For two verses, David supposes with an “if” what would have happened “if it had not been the LORD who was on our side…when people rose up against us” (Psalm 124:1–2).

In the next three verses, “then” introduces the potential results of not having the Lord on one’s side. David pictures his enemies as creatures so large and quick that they “would have swallowed us up alive” (Psalm 124:3). They would also be “the flood,” “the torrent,” and “the waters” that “would have swept us away” and “gone over us” (Psalm 124:4–5). Both pictures give the certainty of swift defeat.

But…

While David does not use the conjunction “but,” the contrast to the “if” situation is implied. If God did not help him, defeat would have come. But, David could say “Blessed be the LORD” in Psalm 124:6 because God was his help, which David notes in closing his psalm—“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8).

Therefore…

Since the Lord delivered him, David therefore praised the Lord—“Blessed be the Lord” (Psalm 124:6). He and his men were “not given us as prey to their teeth” (Psalm 124:6), and they “escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers” (Psalm 124:7).

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How Psalm 124 Instructs Us to Thank God Today

While Christians are not guaranteed freedom from bodily harm in persecution, salvation in Christ does guarantee overcoming Satan and his kingdom. We are delivered from the power of the evil one, and God shall one day crush Satan’s head under our feet as well (Romans 16:20).

Sometimes we can become our own enemies through sin as well, becoming snared by pride (cf. 1 Timothy 3:7), riches (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9), spiritual blindness (cf. 2 Timothy 2:26), idols (cf. Psalm 106:36), or whatever the sin may be. In such an instance, if we are truly the children of God, the Father will discipline us back to Himself (Hebrews 12:5–6), and Christ will protect us from perpetual sin (1 John 5:18).

In either situation, whether we battle sin within or foes from without (cf. 1 Peter 2:11–12), we can be thankful that God delivers us.

From Psalm 124, we might say…If the Father had not sent His Son for our salvation, then we would have certainly been punished forever. But, for those who believe, that is not the case. Therefore, blessed be the Lord!

David Huffstutler

About David Huffstutler

David pastors First Baptist Church in Rockford, IL, serves as a chaplain for his local police department, and teaches as adjunct faculty at Bob Jones University. David holds a Ph. D. in Applied Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. His concentration in Christian Leadership focuses his contributions to pastoral and practical theology.



Endnotes:

  1. All quotes are from the ESV. Also, a helpful and devotional source along these lines is James Montgomery Boice, Psalms 107–150: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005), 1095–1101. []

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