This song seems to be an invitation to the Israelite pilgrims - an invitation to remember a time in their history when everything looked bleak. In particular to reflect on a time when 'if the LORD were not on our side... they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us'. Probably there were a number of times in their collective history that could fit this description but the event of the exodus comes most readily to mind. This song is designed to provoke them to remember the feeling of helplessness when Pharaoh was bearing down upon them as they were encamped against the sea (Ex 13-14). In that moment Yahweh proved himself to be their Helper. This song seems to provoke 2 responses from the people: 1) a response to remember - this is a call to look back carefully in history and learn about how God had been a faithful helper; 2) a response of worship, praise and thanksgiving - how easy it is not to pay attention to the past and how easy to take God for granted in the present. This song is a reminder to us to look back over our own life history, but also to the whole story of redemption as told in the Bible and be reminded that God is a faithful and just 'Helper' for His people. May we know His helping presence every day!
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