Psalm 124 is a ‘looking back’ reflection by a community who were at the brink of total destruction from enemies more powerful than them. There was no way out for this community and yet against all odds, they were delivered from their enemies. They knew that it was God who delivered them. The thanksgiving in the psalm is in the form of a rhetorical question: “What if the Lord had not been on our side? Let all Israel repeat: What if the Lord had not been on our side when people attacked us?” The psalm goes on to describe in detail using strong descriptive language the intensity of the threat and the danger posed to the community. They describe their enemy’s anger and threat as ‘flood waters’ that threatened to ‘engulfed’ them and also as a ‘torrent’ that would have ‘overwhelmed’ them (v4,5). After describing the terror of the enemy, the psalm moves on to the deliverance by God with an acclamation of praise: (v 6a) “Praise the Lord who did not let their teeth tear us apart.” They vividly describe their deliverance as being freed from the trap that the enemy had set for them. The psalm concludes with an affirmation of faith in God as the creator of ‘heaven and earth’.
The readings from the book of Esther fit into this psalm. The Jewish community during this time in history had lost their homeland and were ruled by King Xerxes, his second wife was Esther, a Jew. Esther kept her identity secret until the time when Haman (one of the king’s high officials) set up a plan to carry out a genocide against the Jews. Esther spoke up and saved the Jews and Haman was hung on the gallows that he designed for the Jews. What is of interest is that the book of Esther is the only book in the bible where the name of God is not mentioned. Yet God is ever-present through the events that take place from the choice of Esther as queen, the planning of the genocide by Haman and the deliverance through Esther’s intervention. These events are not random or coincidental but are woven together by God who takes the evil of humanity and brings deliverance.
In the gospel reading, Jesus states that God will act against those who threaten the lives of children. Further the book of James shows the practical concern of God for the sick and suffering through answering of prayers and healing.
There is a connectedness in the readings that points to the reality of God working in the midst of all kinds of ‘threats to life’ and bringing deliverance in unexpected ways. The details in the psalm and the story of Esther show us how important the details of our lives are and it is through reflecting on the details that we uncover the surprising ways in which God shows up in our lives and delivers us!
To Think About / Do: Choose one event in your life where you felt overwhelmed and somehow were able to pull through. Write down the details and look for the hand of God in your experience.