In 1582, the Rev. J. Durie was released from his prison in Scotland, and two hundred friends met him. They grew to two thousand, and they marched down Edinburgh High Street singing this psalm in four parts. Also, v. 8 was always used to open French Protestant worship. This is a song of miraculous deliverance. The Psalmist cites three analogies to describe this rescue. There are the overwhelming water, the teeth of the enemy, and the trap of the hunter. Whether this tells of the deliverance of God’s people through the Red Sea from the Egyptians, is undecided, but it is certainly a song to be sung when salvation occurs at any time for His people. There is the positive confession, that unless God had acted then all would have been lost, for He, and He only is our help. Retrospective realisation should engender this joyful admission.
Psalm 124 – 2nd Version
1 Now Israel may say, and that truly,
If that the Lord had not our cause maintained;
2 If that the Lord had not our right sustained,
When cruel men against us furiously
Rose up in wrath, to make of us their prey;
3 Then certainly they had devoured us all,
And swallowed quick, for ought that we could deem;
Such was their rage, as we might well esteem.
4 And as fierce floods before them all things drown,
So had they brought our soul to death quite down.
5 The raging streams, with their proud swelling waves,
Had then our soul o'erwhelmèd in the deep.
6 But blessed be God, who doth us safely keep,
And hath not giv'n us for a living prey
Unto their teeth, and bloody cruelty.
7 Ev'n as a bird out of the fowler's snare
Escapes away, so is our soul set free:
Broke are their nets, and thus escapèd we.
8 Therefore our help is in the Lord's great name,
Who heav'n and earth by his great pow'r did frame.