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Psalm 124 - Escaping the snare

Updated: Jan 1

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1 If Yahweh had not been on our side, *

let Israel now say;

2 If Yahweh had not been on our side, *

when enemies rose up against us;

3 Then would they have swallowed us up alive *

in their fierce anger toward us;

4 Then would the waters have overwhelmed us *

and the torrent gone over us;

5 Then would the raging waters *

have gone right over us.

6 Blessed be Yahweh! *

he has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.

7 We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler; *

the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

8 Our help is in the Name of Yahweh, *

the maker of heaven and earth.


This is the Track 1 accompanying Psalm to the Old Testament reading from Esther 7, which will be read aloud in unison or sung by a cantor on the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 21], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. If a church is on the Track 1 schedule, then this will follow Esther saying, “If I have won your favor, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me-- that is my petition-- and the lives of my people-- that is my request.” That pair will precede an Epistle reading from James, where the Apostle wrote, “if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner's soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” All will accompany the Gospel message of Mark, where Jesus said, “For everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

In the English translation above, you will not that in four places I have restored the name of “Yahweh” in bold text, which was written in the Hebrew text of David. This proper name [“the name of the God of Israel” – (Strong’s)] has erroneously been translated as “Lord,” which for centuries has caused people claiming to be “Christians” to call Yahweh their “Lord,” when in truth that is a lie. This misdirection has the effect of making it easy to see Yahweh as some unseen President or Prime Minister, who one might have voted for, while never personally knowing. If Yahweh has become your “Lord” in this way, then like those who claim to serve under a President and a Prime Minister, you will act accordingly and do as you please [sin] thinking the government is not watching closely. Yahweh is not like the government, as He sees all and knows all. Your soul depends on knowing His name, so it can establish a personal relationship with Him.

Psalm 124 is potentially read or sung aloud on three occasions in the Episcopal lectionary cycle, with the only time it is assured to be presented being Holy Innocents day, which is not recognized on a Sunday. This Psalm will be an option once in Year A [Ordinary after Pentecost season] and here in Year B. This means it could be recognized every year [by the devout Episcopalians], every other year or less frequently [by regular Episcopalians]. It is announced by David [although not read aloud] to be one of his songs of ascent, meaning it would have been chanted as priests or the people approached the Tabernacle, ascending the steps carved into Mount Ophel.

Verse one literally translates into English saying, “if not Yahweh committed remained ; to say now Israel”. This is a very important verse that has David speaking the truth. To translate it as saying, “If Yahweh had not been on our side” makes “Yahweh” be like some giant, like Goliath, who [for whatever reason] was some ‘bigger than the average bear’ [a Yogi-ism] ally. This makes Yahweh out to be some paid servant, which is wrong to think.

The Hebrew word [transliterated] “še·hā·yāh” stems from “hayah,” which means “to fall out, come to pass, become, be.” (Strong’s) According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance the word can be translated as “become, altogether, accomplished, committed, like, break, cause,” with the root said to be “to exist.” This is then stating a change of state that comes from Yahweh, where it is important to see the Covenant as vows of “commitment.” The word has been translated as “committed” in Scripture. [NASB translations] Thus, “if not Yahweh committed” in marriage of their souls to His Spirit, then Yahweh would be like Yahweh is to all human beings on earth – unknown and not involved.

The Hebrew word “lā·nū” is said to be non-translatable, but it is said to be the “third-person plural past of לָן‎ (lan)” [Wiktionary], with “לָן‎ (lan)” meaning “to stay overnight.” Other sources show the word associated with designating “we” or “us,” such that the first segment of verse one then says, “if not Yahweh committed us,” which is still a statement of marriage, where Yahweh is not committed to them [those not “us”]. However, the aspect of “remained” becomes a statement of fidelity in marriage, so the commitment was enduring.

This focus on commitment in a divine setting [which “Yahweh” brings about], then leads to the second segment of words in verse one that say, “to say now Israel.” When a divine marriage is understood as having been first said, the second segment is David saying such a marriage made the wives of Yahweh take on His name, which is said to be “Israel.” This is then not a deep focus on a nation of people, but the truth behind the name that is then reflected upon the people collectively. The name “Israel” means “He Retains God” or “God Is Upright.” That is then a statement of truth that David said all who followed his leadership could truthfully say they were the result of their souls’ marriage to Yahweh. All were those people in whom Yahweh was Retained, so their souls being married to Yahweh made them Righteous in their lives on earth.

Having gathered that as the theme statement for this song, verse two then repeats verbatim the first segment of words from verse one. Again, David sang, “if not Yahweh committed us [and remained committed],” then “when risen above men.” While the NRSV translation has the Hebrew translate as “when enemies rose up against us,” the reality says those who rightfully could claim to be “Israel” were then “elevated above” the status of ordinary “men” [mankind in general]. In this, the transliterated Hebrew word “bə·qūm” is a statement of “qum,” meaning “to arise, stand up, stand.” Anytime Scripture speaks of “standing up” or “arising,” this brings on a divine spiritual meaning, where the soul is no longer alone. The soul has “risen” through marriage with Yahweh’s Spirit. This is greater than ordinary human beings, and thus it is the truth of the words “elohim” and “adonay,” as “gods” in the flesh, who have Yahweh within them, making them become His “lords.” This is then stating how other “men rising up” to challenge those in whom Yahweh has them stand righteously will never defeat those truly in the name of Israel.

Verse three then translates literally into English as, “then lively they would have engulfed us ; when kindled with anger their faces against us”. In this, the Hebrew word “hay-yim” is rooted in “chay,” meaning “alive, living.” This must be seen as a statement of spiritual excitement, such that the divine marriage of the Israelites would give them the promise of eternal life, which is a strong aura of “life” that radiates outward onto others. Those who had previously resided in the Promised Land were then activated by that presence, so their souls also became “lively,” driven like wild beasts to attack or run from that presence. This presence would have “engulfed” the Israelites themselves, but attracted their enemies to attempt to overtake them and cast them out or devour them. This means the first segment of words in verse three speaks that the presence of Yahweh in His wives will not go unnoticed, as it will activate all souls that come in contact with His presence.

In the second segment of words, the Hebrew transliteration “ba·ḥă·rō·wṯ” is written, stemming from “charah,” meaning “to burn or be kindled with anger.” The use of “’ap·pām,” as the plural of “aph’,” meaning “a nostril, nose, face, anger,” says the presence of Yahweh will bring out the “faces” of evil, where like wild bulls their “nostrils” will flare and the fire of inner evil will erupt against the faces of Yahweh, worn by all true Israelites. This “anger” will reveal the truth of those whose souls are possessed by Satan.

Verse four then literally translates into English as saying, “then the waters would have overflown us ; a torrent , would have passed through our souls”. Here, the use of “mayim,” as “waters,” must be read as a symbolic statement of an emotional flow, rather than a physical flow of water. The element water [one of four basic elements, along with fire, air and earth] is reflective of one’s emotional being, which ebbs and flows through life, easily changing states from solid, to liquid, to gas, and back again. As such, “waters” becomes metaphor for a divine marriage, where many have become the Anointed ones [many Christs, in Greek] of Yahweh, where the Spirit has engulfed all His wives [males and females]. It is then “the torrent” that radiates outward from all who possess that inner source of Yahweh, so each body of flesh represents the high place where the emotional waters of righteousness flows downward. This is the presence of Yahweh that passes through the souls of His wives onto the land they have been given.

Verse five then continues this theme of “waters,” literally translating to say, “then would have passed through our souls ; the waters , boiling”. Here, the second segments of words from verse four are restated in variation, which is saying the Spirit of Yahweh is a flood of presence that one’s body of flesh cannot contain. The Hebrew word ending this verse is transliterated as “haz·zê·ḏō·w·nîm,” stemming from its “zedon” root, meaning “insolent, raging.” Still, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance says “proud” is a translation for this word, saying it is rooted in “zuwd,” which means “boiling of water, i.e. Wave -- proud.” That says the “torrent” of verse four is further stated here as an uncontrollable flow. That sense of “pride” is relative to the “anger faced” in verse three. Thus, David was saying the hand of Yahweh reaches out to those who have not come to know Him, as a “raging flood” of a most powerful God that cannot be defeated.

Verse six then literally translates into English saying, “to kneel Yahweh ; who not has given us prey , for their teeth”. In the NRSV translation that says, “Blessed be Yahweh!” one needs to ask, “Who on earth can “bless Yahweh or say He is blessed?” Those whose souls are married to Yahweh become those “blessed,” because the presence of His Spirit has filled their souls. That state of being not the norm then is what determines how a previous lost soul [a sinner] has been “blessed,” by no longer being one condemned to die and be reincarnated or worse [eternal pit of fire kind of alternative]. This means the Hebrew word “barak” needs to be translated as intending that one has “knelt” before “Yahweh,” which is a statement of submission and thereby marriage.

By seeing this meaning stated in “bā·rūḵ Yah-weh,” one can then assess the second segment that says, “who not has given us prey.” The “who” stated is both the Israelite souls married to Yahweh, “knelt” in subservience to His Will, who are “not” what they had been before, which is exactly like all enemies they face after divine marriage. Still, it is those “who not” are aware of Yahweh and His desire to bring all souls to Him willingly. Therefore, the projected presence of Yahweh that is uncontrollable by one’s soul-flesh is to bring all ”who not” know Yahweh. It is they who have been “given” to the wives of Yahweh as “prey” to save. While they do not know that and they come in anger, attempting to harm Israelites, they will consume their own souls, with no bites bringing harm to Yahweh’s children. David was then singing that the enemy is only an enemy until they can chew of the truth of their God.

Verse seven then sings literally in English as, “our life , as a bird has escaped from the snare of the fowlers the snare is broken , and we have escaped”. Here, importance is stated in the one word that stands alone, “nap̄·šê·nū.” The root word is “nephesh,” which means “a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion.” (Strong’s) This word is completely ignored by the NRSV translation. It is ignored because they are not able to make “a soul” fit the following scenario of a bird escaping a trap. The truth of this verse depends on grasping the dual way this word can relate to both “a soul” and “a life,” in the plural number [“our”].

All human beings are souls in dead bodies of flesh, animating death so it resembles life. True “life” comes to a “soul” when it is married to Yahweh. It is then that marriage that grants true “life” and frees a “soul” from the “snare” that is a body of flesh. The aspect of a “bird” must be seen as a winged creature, which becomes a soul freed to be an angel. The relates a “fowler” to those who “lay bait or lures” [the meaning of “yaqosh,” from which “fowler” comes], who are those in the world who serve Satan and set his traps to “ensnare” souls to the death that all unmarried souls are bound. To “break that snare” [“hap-pah niš·bār”] means to be freed, so a soul can no longer be held in the realm of death that the physical universe is. The breaking of the trap is Salvation, which only comes from a soul marrying Yahweh.

Verse eight then concludes this song of ascent by literally translating into English singing, “our helper in the name Yahweh ; who made , heaven and earth”. Here, the “help” or “helper” is relative to the “escape” from the trappings of mortality. This says that the “snare” will not be “broken” by simply being trapped inside it. To “escape” demands “help.” That “help” comes through divine marriage, when one’s soul submits to His Will and is then “in the name” given by “Yahweh,” which is “Israel” – “He Retains God” or “one whose soul “Is Upright [by] God.” This union is based on “who made” the sacrifice of self-will and self-ego, so that Yahweh could make one’s soul free.

That means the freedom comes at the cost of servitude, so the remainder of one’s life in a body of flesh is “made” righteous by Yahweh, to be sent into the world as His priest. Thus, freedom means service to the “heavenly,” while still being “on earth.” The union of a soul in a body of flesh is the basic version of “heaven and earth,” but the divinity that allows for escape and the breaking of the snare of the material plane is receipt of “heaven” into one’s “earthly” body. That receipt of the Spirit is so one becomes an extension of “heaven” on “earth,” so others can be saved.

As the accompanying Psalm to the Esther reading, which is to be read aloud on the eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, it is important to see the message of David having been a prophecy of that future event, when there still existed true Israelites in a foreign land where anger existed that others would serve a God unlike those known there. One can see how Esther and Mordechai were freed from the snare of mortal existence, because their souls were married to Yahweh and it was Yahweh’s help that led King Ahasuerus to turn the tables on Haman and destroy him by his own wicked device. Thus, the lesson to be learned at this time, when one’s own ministry for Yahweh should already be well underway, is to marry one’s soul to Yahweh and stop worrying about anyone’s anger shown against that true commitment in service to Yahweh. This Psalm sings both of the comfort that comes from trusting in Yahweh’s guidance, while also showing the traps that come from anger and rage towards others.

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