Our help is in the name of God the LORD; the one who made the heavens with a word; Creator of the world, each living thing. Come, bless the LORD, lift up your hearts and sing: “Our help is in the name of God the LORD.”
When evil seems to have the upper hand, call on God’s name: the LORD, the great “I AM.” When troubles rise and all around gives way, remember God stays with us night and day.’ Our help is in the name of God the LORD.
Praise God the LORD who hears the captives’ prayer; like bird escaping from the fowler’s snare, we are set free; our praises now ascend: “Blessed by the LORD: Creator, Saviour, Friend. Our help is in the name of God the LORD.”
Psalm 124, as is generally understood, is one of the psalms which pilgrims sang on their way to the Jerusalem temple for one of the great religious festivals. And as they did, they cast their minds back to some terrible time in the past when they were threatened with doom-laden chaos – recalling how God was there for them through it all. Then, with heart-felt praise, they blessed God who rescued them.
There is a similar sense of praise and blessing in Martin Tel’s version of the psalm. He divides the words into three sections rather than two. Now God is evoked at the beginning rather than the end as the creator of heaven and earth. In the second verse, he is hailed as our saviour, always with us in the most difficult of circumstances, and finally he is praised as our friend, who hears our prayer and sets us free. Coursing through the verses is a sense of divine mystery – the attributes are not allowed to become too familiar – this is the great “I am,” God for ever and God with us, and the emphasis is on trust and. hope for the future.
This is proclaimed and sealed in the repeated words “Our help is in the name of God the Lord,” words which we latter-day pilgrims often affirm in our services of worship. For we too remember the ways in which God has blessed us in the past, how through Jesus Christ our Saviour he continues to deliver us from the chaos of our lives and set us free. And in joy, praise and thanksgiving, we in our turn bless God.
Our help is in the name of the Lord. Gracious God, we thank you, that you extend your grace to us, calling us to a life of gratitude, calling us to service in your Kingdom. We bless you, and praise your holy name. Amen.
The Rev’d Fleur Houston, retired minister, member of Macclesfield and Bollington United Reformed Church