The phrase “God helps those who help themselves” is a popular motto that emphasizes the importance of self-reliance and self initiative. However, nothing could be further from the truth. God does not delight in self reliance. He takes pleasure when His children feel defeated without His presence. He enjoys our dependency on Him not just as a resource, but as the actual source. In other words we seek Him not just to find provision, but as the actual provision itself. We don’t need more of this or that. We need more of Him.
That is the setting of Psalm 124. It is the Psalmist declaration and affirmation that without God, we may as well give up. We are defeated not just by the enemy without, but the enemy within. Our victories of the flesh bring with them pride and a sense of being better than our foes. Our victories in Christ bring with them a sense of humility and thankfulness that God has done marvelous things in our lives. We praise our Father and tell others to look at Him and take their eyes off of us.
Our failures in the flesh bring a sense of worthlessness, and frustration. Self dependence is an anathema to God. It is sin because it tells God we cannot and dare not rely on Him. He is untrustworthy. I must worry and figure this out for myself.
The truth is God helps those who cannot help themselves. That is those who totally rely upon His grace and love rather than their own strength and cunning. That does not mean God helps those who will not help themselves. We are required to show up for the fight. But once we are on the battlefield, or in the boxing ring, the fight is fixed. The battle is won.
Psalm number 124 encourages me to stay on the battlefield because the fight is fixed. The battle is won even though the enemy refuses to leave the field of battle. It is not for me to figure out how to win. I am not called upon to be successful nor even a cheerleader. I am just called upon to stand my ground and acknowledge the Savior is victorious.
Father help me to resist the temptation to run from the battle in fear or stand in self reliance. Help to acknowledge that You alone are my strength and shield and that without Your presence any fleshly victory is defeat.
124 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, now may Israel say;
2 If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us:
3 Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: