The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 124

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 13, 2013


THIS psalm is a song of thanksgiving. A great crisis in the life of Israel has safely passed, and the nation gives thanks for its rescue. The danger with which the nation has been threatened is likened to the fierce onslaught of a raging monster, to the fury of a swollen wady, and, to the might of an overwhelming flood. A wady (wadi) is a valley, ravine or gulley which is usually dry but becomes a flowing torrent during the rainy season. In the American southwest such a feature is called an arroyo.

In the second part of the psalm (5-7) the thanksgiving of the people is chanted. Yahweh has not abandoned Israel to the fangs of the monster that threatened it. Israel is now like a bird that has escaped from the snare of the fowler, and the ecstasy of her new sense of freedom finds expression in the joyous cry: “We are free.”

In the final verse the psalmist ascribes the blessing of rescue to Yahweh alone. In its need the people had called on the name of Yahweh, and the might of that name had wrought deliverance. For what power can withstand the Creator of heaven and earth?

The psalm is ascribed to David in the Massoretic text, but it is likely that the poem is post-Exilic, and that the danger from which Israel has been rescued was that of the Babylonian Exile.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: