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a Bible passage
then they would have swallowed us up alive,
when their anger was kindled against us;
The Security of God's People.
A song of degrees of David.
1 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say; 2 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: 3 Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: 4 Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: 5 Then the proud waters had gone over our soul.
The people of God, being here called upon to praise God for their deliverance, are to take notice,
I. Of the malice of men, by which they were reduced to the very brink of ruin. Let Israel say that there was but a step between them and death: the more desperate the disease appears to have been the more does the skill of the Physician appear in the cure. Observe, 1. Whence the threatening danger came: Men rose up against us, creatures of our own kind, and yet bent upon our ruin. Homo homini lupus—Man is a wolf to man. No marvel that the red dragon, the roaring lion, should seek to swallow us up; but that men should thirst after the blood of men, Absalom after the blood of his own father, that a woman should be drunk with the blood of saints, is what, with St. John, we may wonder at with great admiration. From men we may expect humanity, yet there are those whose tender mercies are cruel. But what was the matter with these men? Why their wrath was kindled against us (v. 3); something or other they were angry at, and then no less would serve than the destruction of those they had conceived a displeasure against. Wrath is cruel and anger is outrageous. Their wrath was kindled as fire ready to consume us. They were proud; and the wicked in his pride doth persecute the poor. They were daring in their attempt; they rose up against us, rose in rebellion, with a resolution to swallow us up alive. 2. How far it went, and how fatal it would have been if it had gone a little further: "We should have been devoured as a lamb by a lion, not only slain, but swallowed up, so that there would have been no relics of us remaining, swallowed up with so much haste, ere we were aware, that we should have gone down alive to the pit. We should have been deluged as the low grounds by a land-flood or the sands by a high spring-tide." This similitude he dwells upon, with the ascents which bespeak this a song of degrees, or risings, like the rest. The waters had overwhelmed us. What of us? Why the stream had gone over our souls, our lives, our comforts, all that is dear to us. What waters? Why the proud waters. God suffers the enemies of his people sometimes to prevail very far against them, that his own power may appear the more illustrious in their deliverance.
II. Of the goodness of God, by which they were rescued from the very brink of ruin: "The Lord was on our side; and, if he had not been so, we should have been undone." 1. "God was on our side; he took our part, espoused our cause, and appeared for us. He was our helper, and a very present help, a help on our side, nigh at hand. He was with us, not only for us, but among us, and commander-in-chief of our forces." 2. That God was Jehovah; there the emphasis lies. "If it had not been Jehovah himself, a God of infinite power and perfection, that had undertaken our deliverance, our enemies would have overpowered us." Happy the people, therefore, whose God is Jehovah, a God all-sufficient. Let Israel say this, to his honour, and resolve never to forsake him.