Updated: May 12
Sometimes we’re stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. Circumstances in all directions seem impossible during those times when life presents itself as difficult and unpleasant, no matter what choice is made. Being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea means facing a choice between two evils.
From the early seventeenth century, this phrase had nothing to do with the devil. It referred to a seam around a ship’s hull near the waterline. In heavy seas, it was perilous for a sailor to caulk the seam, which was called the “devil,” because he was in grave danger of falling overboard and drowning. Hence, he was "between the devil and the deep blue sea." It became a cliché meaning any dilemma in which one is faced with danger (WordHistories.net).
Soon after David wrote that the Lord had saved people from their distresses and had “sent His word and healed them” (Psalm 107:20), he said these words in verses 23-28, Some went off to sea in ships, plying [sailing over] the trade routes of the world. They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action, His impressive works on the deepest seas. He spoke, and the winds rose, stirring up the waves. Their ships were tossed to the heavens and plunged again to the depths; the sailors cringed in terror. They reeled and staggered like drunkards and were at their wits’ end. “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress.
How utterly terrifying to be “tossed to the heavens and plunged to the depths” while in a boat. Certainly, Jesus’ disciples could relate, as their boat was violently tossed about when a furious storm arose, and angry waves swept over the boat while Jesus slept (Matthew 8:24). "Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” they shouted (verse 25.) Cool, calm, collected Jesus rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly there was a great calm (verse 26).
I am not a good swimmer, not even an amateur. Soon after I came to know Jesus, I was at a beach and began jumping waves in the ocean--innocent, small, gentle waves, certainly not rolling breaker waves crashing on the shore. It was great fun! Suddenly I jumped a wave and, without warning, there was no sea bottom under my feet. A strong current pulled me out further and further from the shoreline, and I could not fight against it. The only swimming skill I had was to float on my back, and I began to gulp saltwater as waves went over my head. What horror! I looked up at the spectacularly clear azure sky and thought, "This is the day I will meet Jesus." I was certain of my end. I couldn’t even hear people or noises anymore. With everything in me, I looked up at the sky and yelled as loudly as I could, “JESUS!!!”
Instantly at the name of Jesus, I felt hands on my shoulder blades. I looked up, and a man was calmly pulling me back to the shore. I did not know him. When we reached the shore, he helped me stand up and asked if I was all right. I nodded affirmatively. He then said, “You be careful.” I turned to thank him, but he was gone…completely out of sight. I’m sure people came to my aid, but I do not recall anything vividly except the unmistakable hands on my shoulder blades and the man rescuing me from danger and terror.
They, too, observed the Lord’s power in action, His impressive works on the deepest seas. I understand that scripture. This was impressive work! I was literally between the devil and the deep blue sea, as the ocean’s undertow pulled me out to, most likely, the devil’s attempt to take my life. I believe the man who rescued me was an angel. At the name of JESUS, that angel was summoned by Father God to help me. Are not all the angels ministering spirits sent out [by God] to serve [accompany, protect] those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14 Amplified Bible). Of course they are!
No matter if your “devil and the deep blue sea” is an exasperating, hopeless situation with life or the elements, know this: there is POWER in the name of Jesus! He still rescues us when we call on Him.
© 2023, Chris Werre