Psalm 118:1-6 (ESV)

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;

for his steadfast love endures forever!

[2] Let Israel say,

“His steadfast love endures forever.”

[3] Let the house of Aaron say,

“His steadfast love endures forever.”

[4] Let those who fear the Lord say,

“His steadfast love endures forever.”

[5] Out of my distress I called on the Lord;

the Lord answered me and set me free.

[6] The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.

What can man do to me?

“The Lord is on my side”. Life is so full of hardship and pain and uncertainty and a host of other unpleasantries that it gets wearying to the soul. How long, O Lord? Our response to the hardships of life is not, to say the least, always as God honouring as it should be or a testimony of faithfulness. Christians, like everyone else (and how damning a comment is that?) gripe and complain and plot against people. They gossip about those who don’t see eye to eye with them. They retreat into alcohol and prescription drugs and eating disorders. They fall back into their besetting sins and become less than vigilant against he who would devour them as a roaring lion. None of these things necessarily mean that the person is an unbeliever. True believers can commit all kinds of sins and true believers can fall into all kinds of aberrant and destructive behaviours. The amazing thing in all of this when children of God fall back into ungodliness is the truth that is uttered by the Psalmist in Psalm 118:6 – “The Lord is on my side…”.

The writer of this Psalm has been in some distress (verse 5). He has called out to God to help him (verse 5). God has heard and answered. We know this because of the words used throughout the Psalm. “Oh give thanks (verse 1). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD” (verse 8). In almost every verse of this Psalm we see that God has rescued the Psalmist and Israel out of some very serious trouble. What got them into trouble? Perhaps the godlessness of their enemies. Perhaps their own sin and rebellion. Perhaps tests from God to help them grow .

We know that Israel was more than prone to drifting away into idolatry. Perhaps it was the same kinds of things that mark us when things start going awry. We grumble, a sin very common in Israel in the Old Testament. Maybe they gossiped or got depressed or neglected prayer. We know that they often performed their religious duties as mere rituals and not as a testimony of a grateful heart. Whatever the reason for the Psalmists dilemma, God has gotten him out of it and he is now rejoicing.

Why did God get him out? Because God was on his side. This is a stunning truth. When I am completely innocent of wrong doing and people oppose me anyway, the Lord is on my side. When I sin and my troubles are the just discipline of a loving Father, God is still on my side. When I react badly to the problems of my life and fall into self destructive behaviour, no matter what it is, the Lord is on my side.

This is a glorious testimony of the unsurpassable love of God. It speaks of God’s faithfulness to us, to His own name and above all to the honour of His beloved Son. God is always on the side of His children. Always.

Oh that we could cultivate remembering this great truth when we find ourselves in precarious predicaments and are prone to think that we are all alone. God is on our side. What a tonic for the soul. What a medicine to help us get back on our feet. God is on my side – what can man do to me? Nothing. Therefore we will not fear and we will not despair and we will not surrender and we will never quit. Thank you Lord for the necessary reminder that you are with us and that if you be with us nothing can be against us. Press on.

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