Bring Our Hostages Home

October 15, 2023

Psalm 69, a poignant psalm written by King David, is one of the many psalms recited by those facing adversity. Its themes of suffering, persecution, and the fervent plea for divine intervention resonate profoundly with the ongoing crisis in Israel. In the midst of the violence and turmoil, the words of this psalm find an echo in our hearts as we turn to King David’s age-old verses for expression of our feelings, guidance and hope.

The release of Israel’s hostages is a matter of life and death and needs our urgent attention. As we learn and recite Psalm 69 today, have in mind the over 150 innocent men, women and children who are being held captive by cruel and evil Hamas terrorists at this very moment. May they be returned home quickly and safely.

King David begins Psalm 69 with a vivid description of his predicament, stating, “Deliver me, O God, for the waters have reached my neck; I am sinking into the slimy deep and find no foothold; I have come into the watery depths; the floods sweep me away” (verses 2-3). This vivid imagery mirrors the anguish felt by many in Israel as they grapple with the devastating consequences of the current war. Innocent civilians find themselves in peril, lives have been disrupted and futures are uncertain. The waters of distress and suffering have indeed risen, leaving countless individuals feeling as though they are sinking without reprieve.

The psalmist’s words in verse 5, “More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without reason,” are strikingly relevant to the Israeli crisis. We are faced with an enemy that harbors a baseless hatred, one that extends to Jews solely because of their identity. The enemy’s hatred is directed not only at individuals but also at the very existence and beliefs of the Jewish people. This deep-seated enmity finds resonance in King David’s words, “It is for Your sake that I have been reviled, that shame covers my face.” The hatred stems from the belief in and representation of the one true, just, and moral God of Israel.

In the face of overwhelming adversity, however, David places his hope and trust in God’s faithfulness and mercy (verse 14).

Throughout Psalm 69, King David implores God for deliverance and protection. “Rescue me from the mire; let me not sink; let me be rescued from my enemies, and from the watery depths,” (verse 15) he cries out. We, too, call out to God to rescue us and our brothers and sisters who need deliverance. But we don’t just want deliverance. We ask God to serve justice against our enemies and ensure that they will never be able to harm us again. “Pour out Your wrath on them; may Your blazing anger overtake them,” (verse 25) King David passionately implores.

But our cry isn’t solely for an end to hostilities and the elimination of the enemy. We implore God to bring the hostages back home, guided by the conviction that, “For the LORD listens to the needy and does not spurn His captives” (verse 34).

Towards the conclusion of Psalm 69, David declares that God will redeem Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah (verse 36). This vision of rebuilding offers hope for a future marked by peace and reconstruction. Despite the current turmoil, there is an underlying belief in the possibility of renewal and restoration, echoing the resilience of those who persevere amidst hardship.

In Psalm 69 we find a poignant reflection of the suffering of Israel and a timeless call for deliverance, justice, a restoration of peace and a return of the captives. May we witness a swift and safe end to the war, along with the immediate release of Israel’s hostages. May they return quickly and safely to their waiting families, bringing with them the hope of a brighter and more peaceful future.

For the leader. On shoshannim. Of David.
Deliver me, O God, for the waters have reached my neck;
I am sinking into the slimy deep and find no foothold; I have come into the watery depths; the flood sweeps me away.
I am weary with calling; my throat is dry; my eyes fail while I wait for God.
More numerous than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without reason; many are those who would destroy me, my treacherous enemies. Must I restore what I have not stolen?
God, You know my folly; my guilty deeds are not hidden from You.
Let those who look to You, O Lord, GOD of hosts, not be disappointed on my account; let those who seek You, O God of Israel, not be shamed because of me.
It is for Your sake that I have been reviled, that shame covers my face;
I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my kin.
My zeal for Your house has been my undoing; the reproaches of those who revile You have fallen upon me.
When I wept and fasted, I was reviled for it.
I made sackcloth my garment; I became a byword among them.
Those who sit in the gate talk about me; I am the taunt of drunkards.
As for me, may my prayer come to You, O LORD, at a favorable moment; O God, in Your abundant faithfulness, answer me with Your sure deliverance.
Rescue me from the mire; let me not sink; let me be rescued from my enemies, and from the watery depths.
Let the floodwaters not sweep me away; let the deep not swallow me; let the mouth of the Pit not close over me.
Answer me, O LORD, according to Your great steadfastness; in accordance with Your abundant mercy turn to me;
do not hide Your face from Your servant, for I am in distress; answer me quickly.
Come near to me and redeem me; free me from my enemies.
You know my reproach, my shame, my disgrace; You are aware of all my foes.
Reproach breaks my heart, I am in despair; I hope for consolation, but there is none, for comforters, but find none.
They give me gall for food, vinegar to quench my thirst.
May their table be a trap for them, a snare for their allies.
May their eyes grow dim so that they cannot see; may their loins collapse continually.
Pour out Your wrath on them; may Your blazing anger overtake them;
may their encampments be desolate; may their tents stand empty.
For they persecute those You have struck; they talk about the pain of those You have felled.
Add that to their guilt; let them have no share of Your beneficence;
may they be erased from the book of life, and not be inscribed with the righteous.
But I am lowly and in pain; Your help, O God, keeps me safe.
I will extol God’s name with song, and exalt Him with praise.
That will please the LORD more than oxen, than bulls with horns and hooves.
The lowly will see and rejoice; you who are mindful of God, take heart!
For the LORD listens to the needy, and does not spurn His captives.
Heaven and earth shall extol Him, the seas, and all that moves in them.
For God will deliver Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; they shall live there and inherit it;
the offspring of His servants shall possess it; those who cherish His name shall dwell there.
Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

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