א מִזְמוֹר לְדָוִד בְּבָרְחוֹ מִפְּנֵי אַבְשָׁלוֹם בְּנוֹ׃
3:1 When he fled from his son Avshalom
David writes his psalms, expressing both his darkest fears and his greatest expressions of gratitude to God, during the tumultuous times in his life. As punishment for sinning with Batsheva, David is warned that Hashem will “make a calamity rise against you from within your own house” (II Samuel 12:11). A few years later, David finds himself driven out of his capital city by his son Avshalom. As he ascends the Mount of Olives crying and downtrodden (II Samuel 15:30), he turns to Hashem in pain and suffering and calls out with this psalm. The Mount of Olives is a mountain ridge adjacent to the Old City of Yerushalayim. After the destruction of the second Beit Hamikdash, a custom emerged to make a pilgrimage to the Mount of Olives on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, the day which commemorates the destruction of the Temple, in order to gaze upon Har HaBayit and cry. In the modern State of Israel, while we still mourn the loss of the Beit Hamikdash, we are privileged to be able to rejoice over the return to Jerusalem and its surrounding mountains.