Near Misses

Text: Psalm 124

Have you had any “near misses” lately?  I am thinking about those times when you might have caught the handrail just prior to falling down the stairs. Or what about the time when you slammed on the brakes to keep you from hitting another vehicle speeding through an intersection? How do we explain those near catastrophic events? Many times people will wipe their brow and say, “Boy that was close.  I sure was lucky!” 

But was it luck or was it something else? The author of Psalm 124 has a very different perspective on the matter of “near misses.” In this fifth psalm of ascent, we are presented with a very clear picture of how our lives are protected from danger, and what God wants us to do in response. In fact, it has nothing to do with “luck” at all. Your escape isn’t even the result of “agility” or “quick thinking.”

Please notice four things about the way the psalmist arranges his material. It is a highly emotive piece of poetry that builds into a solemn shout of praise right up to the last verse.
  • In verses 1-5 the psalmist recounts an unidentified event in Israel’s past.  Vicious enemies had apparently attacked the nation, enemies who were likened to hungry animals about to devour their prey.  Death was near at hand.
  • In verses 6-7 the psalmist gives praise to God for an unexpected escape.  He likens Israel to a bird that has escaped a hunter’s trap.  Somehow the net had been torn and the bird was able to fly away.  It was close, but a surprising escape occurred.
  • In verse 8 the psalmist affirms that the reason for escaping this “near miss” was the fact that God had intervened.  If God had not been in the picture, the outcome would have been altogether different (cf. v.1).
  • The most significant thing in the psalm is the fact that the writer moves from the past tense in verses 1-7 to the present tense in verse 8.  He is essentially saying, “God has delivered” AND “God is a Deliverer!”  That is, what is true of past events is just as true for present and future events in our lives.

So why is this progression of thought so important? Because there is no such thing as “luck” in the Christian life. When a catastrophe is deflected, God is the source of our deliverance.  

Yesterday’s "near misses" are the result of God’s providential care in your life. 

The more I meditate on this psalm I realize that what is expressed is not so much an account of human experience. Rather Psalm 124 is ultimately about God.
  • GOD is powerful. He is the “Maker of heaven and earth.” He created everything and he owns everything, including you (cf. 1 COR 7:23).  
  • GOD is present. When the psalmist says in verse 8, “Our help is in the name of Yahweh,” he is most likely thinking of Deuteronomy 12:11. Moses reminded the people of Israel that there was coming a day when the Lord would cause “HIS NAME” to dwell among them. And when Yahweh’s glory finally came to dwell in the Temple it was a reminder that He was present with His people (cf. 1 Kings 8:10-19). Today the Lord dwells within every Christian every day, and in every circumstance we face (cf. John 14:16)!
  • GOD is worthy of our praise. In verse 6 the psalmist exhorts his fellow pilgrims to “praise the Lord.” And the very fact that the pilgrims singing this psalm of ascent were on their way to Jerusalem meant that they were pursuing God. They not only went to praise Him but to discover more deeply the character of the God of Israel. This should be our intention as well. 

I know that someone could say, “But what about loved ones and believers who don’t escape the dangers of this life?” Yes, this is a common question we ask in our grief and confusion. But if those same individuals are Christ-followers, THEY DO ESCAPE! They pass from this life into the one that the Savior has planned for all His children.

Please take some time to think about what God has done in delivering you from those “near misses” in your life. He protected you in the past, and He will do it again. After all, “Our help is in the name of Yahweh, the Maker of heaven and earth.” 

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