The Lord Helped Me (Psalm 118:13-14)
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. 14 The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.–Psalm 118:13-14
By God’s providence, we encounter this week’s Fighter Verse as those of us in the United States prepare for Thanksgiving. As an immigrant, I have come to love and appreciate this holiday–a time to be with family, enjoy delicious food, and reflect on our blessings.
For some, however, Thanksgiving is not a time for celebration and togetherness. It can be a time of sadness and isolation–of reflection where we think about what we have lost. Broken relationships. Family members whose seats will be empty at the Thanksgiving table. Financial crises that make any meal of celebration seem hollow.
This week’s Fighter Verse brings us strong encouragement from the words of King David:
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
The preceding verses include an account of David’s distress as he faced enemies on all sides. He attributes his success to his hope and trust “in the name of the LORD.” Then, in verse 13, he summarizes his experience–weakness in the face of that assault. He was pushed hard and was falling.
In worldly terms, his defeat seemed sure, but his circumstances were not a good indication of ultimate reality because the LORD his God helped him. This is not a king retelling his conquest, victory, and strength. It is a king rejoicing that the power of the King of the universe was made perfect in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). “Afflicted in every way, but not crushed,” the king testifies here that “the surpassing power” of his victories “belongs to God” (2 Corinthians 4:7-8).
Rejoicing in those victories, the king turns to familiar words from the book of Exodus. On the banks of the Red Sea, rejoicing in their deliverance from the enemy that had surrounded them on every side, Moses and the Israelites sang those words from Exodus 15:2 that are quoted here: The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
God parted the waters for His people to pass through on dry land. They watched the LORD’s glorious triumph over the horse and riders of Egypt. It was the LORD who threw them into the sea. He was active in the deliverance of His people.
The LORD is the strength of His people, especially when they are falling and weak. He is the song of His people–in the midst of their struggles and after their deliverance. And He has become our salvation. Salvation belongs to our God (Revelation 7:10). Our God gave up His own Son–a sacrifice that clearly demonstrates He will “graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:32).
So what hope and encouragement do these verses offer this Thanksgiving week?
Whether we are looking forward to Thanksgiving or not, we should follow David’s example of (1) rejoicing in God’s goodness to us personally and (2) looking back in salvation history and rejoicing in God’s steadfast love and care for His people. The God of Moses on the banks of the Red Sea is the same God who delivered David and is our God today. If you trust in Jesus, that salvation history is not just a story, it is your story. It is your God whose steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 118:1).
And especially if you are a believer who is dreading Thanksgiving this year, know that your pain, your isolation, your weaknesses, are not ultimate reality. You may be falling today, brothers and sisters, but the Lord will help. He will help you. He cares for you. Personally. Intimately. He is in your pain as much as He is in your triumphs.
It is easy in the trials of life to lose sight of what Bunyan called “those sweet refreshments” we receive on our pilgrimage. But hear the strong words of Christian’s companion, Hopeful:
These troubles and distresses that you are going through in these waters are not a sign that God has forsaken you but are sent to try you, to see if you will call to mind all the goodness that you have received from Him. You are being tested to see if you will rely on Him in your distress.
–From Pilgrim’s Progress, emphasis mine
So rely on Him this week friends–whether in times of distress or blessing–He will help, He will be your strength, your song, and your salvation.
What story/stories from redemption history provide you with the most encouragement when you are “falling” as David was?
What past blessings from your own life can you celebrate this week?
Who in your life may need your encouragement and prayers this week as they face a Thanksgiving that they dread?