“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth—let Israel say—they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me.” (Psalms 129:1–2 NIV)
Most nations look back to their accomplishments – but Israel looks back to reflect on survival! Sometimes survival is the greatest victory. In remembering God’s help in the past the call goes out here from one singer to the rest of his pilgrims, like Psalm 124.1.
This is a Psalm about the long-term value of perseverance, of trusting God that His redemption will come at the right time. That holding on to hope in Him will be vindicated. That it will be worth it to remain in Him.
“..patience has a positive tonic effect on others; because of the presence of the patient person, they revive and go on, as if he were the gyroscope of the ship providing a stable ground. But the patient person himself does not enjoy it.” Paul Goodman
We want victory, and share in it now (1 Cor 15:54-57), but it’s fullness will only be experienced in eternity, and in the meantime we must take heart and be patient knowing the final victory is coming.
This oppression has been going on for a while. ‘From my youth’ probably refers to the Exodus (see Hos 11:1). God’s people of the old covenant, Christians & Christianity have been kicked around over the centuries. We are not always strong, but we are hard to kill, like a tough perennial. The life of Paul is a great example of this. He was able to go through the intense trials recorded in 2 Cor 11:23-29, and still say,
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13–14 NIV)
We are called to imitate this faith – i.e. faithfulness through suffering. The person of faith outlast all oppressors. We can sing this hymn with joy …
I heard an old, old story,
how a Saviour came from glory,
How he gave His life on Calvary
to save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
of His precious blood atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
and won the victory.
O victory in Jesus my Saviour forever
He sought me and bought me
with His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
and all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory beneath
the cleansing flood.
I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory
And I heard about the street of gold
beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
and the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up
there the song of victory.
O victory in Jesus, my Saviour, forever….,