I love reading fiction, especially science fiction, so sometimes my imagination runs far afield. Especially during my Shabbat afternoon nap. Last Shabbat, I was lying on the sofa, unable to move after indulging way too much in Shabbat lunch. I began to drift off to sleep while my wife read Psalms. My eyes closed as she read:
All the earth bows to You, and sings hymns to You; all sing hymns to Your name.” Selah. Psalms 66:4
My dream carried on from that point.
I dreamt that I was a baggage handler at Ben Gurion Airport, struggling to keep up with the masses of suitcases that kept coming off the planes. It was an unusually busy day! During my coffee break, I turned on my smartphone to surf social media. But there weren’t any cute cat pictures or silly political rants. Every post was about how amazing the God of Israel was. YouTube was the same, showing people with their hands clasped together in prayer and the more exuberant “influencers” actually bowing down.
And then the dream went especially sideways. I dreamt that a huge flying saucer appeared over Jerusalem, teleporting its green occupants into the Western Wall Plaza. Even stranger was that on each of their three heads sat a skullcap.
My wife shook me awake.
“You were mumbling in your sleep and sounded disturbed,” she said. “What were you dreaming about?”
“Unicorns,” I mumbled. “Carnivorous unicorns.”
Psalm 66 was composed later in David’s life when his throne was established and he was free from persecution. At this time David chose to focus on the future. David envisions a time when all nations and people will praise God together.
This is a vision of unity and peace that is sorely needed in our world today. Imagine if every member state of the UN would stand up and praise God! Instead of targeting Israel and the Jewish people, they would embrace them. This is the kind of world that David envisions in this psalm.
Remarkably, part of David’s prophetic vision was fulfilled not so long ago. In 2016, Israel’s elder statesman, Shimon Peres, passed away. Leaders from 70 nations came to Mount Herzl in Jerusalem to pay their respects.
But the message of this psalm remains particularly relevant today, as Israel has faced numerous challenges and tragedies in recent years. From the ongoing conflict with Palestine to the rise of anti-Semitism around the world, the Jewish people have often been the target of hatred and violence.
In Psalm 66, David reminds us that God is always listening to our prayers. Even though our thoughts are not always pure, He hears our cries for help and blesses us with kindness and mercy (verses 17-20). And even the trials and tribulations that we face can serve to refine us and make us stronger (verse 10).
But perhaps the most hopeful message of this psalm is the message of unity and praise; a message that is desperately needed in our world today where so much division and strife exist.
So let us take heart in this psalm, and remember that even in the midst of trials and tribulations, God is with us. And let us work towards a future where all people can come together in unity and praise, just as David envisioned.