Wednesday of Pentecost 5 – Psalm 124

1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—
    let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side
    when people rose up against us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
    when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away,
    the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone
    the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord,
    who has not given us
    as prey to their teeth!
We have escaped like a bird
    from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken,
    and we have escaped!

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    who made heaven and earth.

The youth group and I were heading up the hill to do some skiing in Park City. There were about seven of us total and one of the members let us take their enormous and somewhat battered old Chevrolet Suburban to transport skis and young people in one car. After a long day of skiing, we trooped back to the Suburban and loaded up the skis and young people. To get out of the lot, I had to exit our parking area and descend a sloped driveway to traverse another parking area below. The sun was setting by this point behind the mountain and the thin layer of snowmelt had hardened to a sheet of ice. I touched the brake on this massive vehicle as we came into that lower lot, and I felt the backend of the Suburban swing to left. Helplessly I watched as car after car swept past the windshield while we spun several circles in the parking lot in a two-ton beast of an SUV. It being Park City, everyone of those cars was out of my price range.

After spinning around three times (it felt like 10 in that moment) we finally came to rest. We did not touch another car. I got out of the door and leaned against side of the car, a little weak in the knees. To my surprise I heard cheering. The lot was ringed with other skiers returning their own cars applauding me and my good fortune. I took a quick bow, got in the car, and gingerly exited the lot and made my way home without further incident.

David is credited as the author of this psalm, but he does not tell us exactly what happened. He clearly, however, had a narrow escape. Was it some enemy people he refers to here, perhaps the Midianites or Moabites, or was it the rebellion of his son Absalom? If God had not been with us…the torrent would have gone over us. He feels like he has escaped like a bird which flees a broken snare. It could, had it worked, caught him and he would have been lost, killed, overwhelmed. Now he flitters away, grateful to put the ruins of his own potential ruin far behind him. David knows something we all can remember. His escape and mine was the Lord’s doing. If I had hit another car that day, the insurance company would not have found fault with God and submitted a bill to him. They would have come after me. But my escape is surely the work of God. Tonight, as you go to bed, consider the last words of this Psalm. You may not even be aware of all your narrow escapes in this day but acknowledge that this is true. Your help is in the name of the Lord.

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