They Have Afflicted Me from My Youth
A Song of Ascents.
129 “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”—
let Israel now say—
“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,
yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed upon my back;
they made long their furrows.”
The LORD is righteous;
he has cut the cords of the wicked.
May all who hate Zion
be put to shame and turned backward!
Let them be like the grass on the housetops,
which withers before it grows up,
with which the reaper does not fill his hand
nor the binder of sheaves his arms,
nor do those who pass by say,
“The blessing of the LORD be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the LORD!”
Psalm 129 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Upon this rock I will be build my church and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”Matthew 16:18
For Israel, they had been persecuted for centuries. Although things looked dim and dire at different times, they were never completely destroyed. God preserved a remnant.
When Jesus came, He warned of persecution of those who followed Him. He also promised He would be with them.
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”Matthew 10:16-22
Openly stating the facts, Jesus told His disciples they were going into an evil world where they would be as defenseless as sheep among ravenous wolves. Advising not to fall into traps and avoid trouble they were to be innocent as doves bringing no harm to those who had come against them. They were to remain blameless.
In political, religious and personal realms they would face persecution. They were to hold firm to their faith the Gospel, Jesus Himself. There was to be no fear for what others could do them. There was to be no fear as to what they would say for the Spirit would be with them.
His commission was to know this was coming but also not to surrender their faith in the face of persecution. For if they stood firm they would be saved. As Jesus was falsely accused so would they be. In the face of persecution, they were to boldly proclaim the Gospel for God’s truth would be revealed. Beautifully, Jesus then would become the intermediary between God and man. Whoever proclaimed Jesus as Lord even in the middle of persecution would be acknowledged before God. By the same token, those who rejected or denied Him would be done the same before God.
As Psalm 129 recounts for Israel the enemies of God never succeeded completely. They never prevailed. This is true of Believers today. Yes, the enemy may take our physical body but they cannot take our soul. Even as the psalm has Israel recounting their past persecutions and having survived, for us who have been persecuted in the past, will remain strong in our Jesus. For future persecutions that may come, these assaults will fail just the same. Jesus promised His the strategies of hell will never prevail. Even within this psalm recounting the past persecutions, although there is a sense of danger there is no despair.
Persecution today comes in many forms against Believers. Our call is to remember the truth of God working despite what we see. Our commission is to know that our Jesus is right beside us. If we are committed to Him He will prevail in whatever form that looks like. This is what we must cling to. And when we have done everything we must keep standing.
Psalm 129 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
The enemies of God will not prevail.
Even though it seems like they are winning, God promises to make right what is wrong. In our country, we don’t really know what it is like to be subject to unrelenting, torturous oppression. There is a fine line between standing for injustice and “turning the other cheek” as Jesus commanded. We are called to do both. However, the constant in both scenarios is that the oppressor, outside of repentance, will be subject to the wrath of God.
Jesus Himself prayed for His enemies because He knew the power and strength of that wrath.
When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified Him there, along with the criminals, one on the right and one on the left. 34 Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided His clothes and cast lots.Luke 23:33-34 HCSB
He could have prayed or stated anything. He was God in the flesh. It would have made more sense to us for Him to condemn them to a life of eternal separation from God. This is what they earned and deserved. However, even in the midst of their horrific choices, Jesus prays they would be forgiven.
In this sense, we understand justice as a means to repentance. If our desire for others is that they face the wrath of God because we hate them and believe they deserve it, we have missed the power in Jesus’ sacrifice. Yes, we stand up for injustice. Yes, there are times when we will endure as Jesus did for the sake of the Gospel. But, in the end, it should be our prayer that God’s consequences drive the enemies of Him to a repentant heart.