This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 118:8-14

Seeking Refuge in Yahweh

(8) (It is) better to seek refuge in Yahweh than to trust in human (resources). (9) (It is) better to seek refuge in Yahweh than to trust in princes. (10) All the nations surrounded me. In the name of Yahweh I will cut them off. (11) They surrounded me, they surrounded me on every side. In the name of Yahweh I will cut them off. (12) They surrounded me like bees. They were extinguished like fire among thorns. In the name of Yahweh I will cut them off. (13) You pushed hard against me so that I was falling, but Yahweh helped me. (14) Yahweh (is) my strength and song. He has become my salvation.

Yahweh’s name occurs in every verse. Like the opening segment, this paragraph also contains three chant-like repetitions. First, we encounter the twice-repeated phrase “(It is) better to seek refuge in Yahweh than to trust” (vss. 8 & 9). Then the psalmist uses “surrounded” four times to describe the threats he faced from his enemies (vss. 10-12). Finally, “in the name of Yahweh I will cut them off” concludes three of the verses (vss. 10-12).

I.  Testimony of faith  (8 & 9)
II.  Testing of faith  (10-12)
III.  Triumph of faith  (13 & 14)

Whatever dangers we face from our enemies, we can always look to Yahweh for deliverance.

In which book of the Bible do we find the statement, “God helps those who help themselves?” Many reading this would immediately recognize this to be a trick question since this statement never appears in Scripture. Sadly, a recent survey conducted by George Barna, a Christian pollster, found that more than half of Americans agreed with the statement, “The Bible teaches that God helps those who help themselves.” The same held true for so-called born again Christians.

Self-reliance has been considered an admirable character trait ever since America’s colonial days. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a noted New England philosopher and lecturer, often exhorted his listeners to stand up for themselves and to depend on their own ingenuity and resourcefulness. Perhaps no author did more to promote the idea of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps than Horatio Alger, the American author of a series of popular dime novels published in the 19th Century about impoverished street kids who through hard work and dogged persistence managed to lift themselves from lives of poverty.

Is self-reliance a Biblical virtue? Does God really help those who help themselves? According to verse 8, those who belong to Yahweh must learn that self-reliance can easily become an idolatrous substitute for trusting in God. Those who do this will one day realize that they are foolishly building their houses on sand as Jesus taught in his famous parable in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 7:24-27). We must learn instead to establish our lives on the rock of trusting in God to sustain us no matter what we are facing.

Psalm 118:15-21

Psalm 118:1-7