As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, the words of Psalm 28 seem to reach out from the past, striking a chord that is incredibly relevant today.
This psalm was written by King David, a man who knew all too well what it meant to be caught in battle, and yet he also knew the comfort that comes from trusting in a higher power. Psalm 28 contains an urgent request for salvation in addition to a strong belief in redemption, both of which resonate in light of the current conflict.
The psalm begins with a request by David for God to listen to him. David fears that without God’s attention, he would be as good as gone, similar to falling into “the Pit,” a reference to Sheol – the underworld place of darkness inhabited by the dead.
The imagery of the pit reminds us of the story of Joseph, who was thrown into a pit by his brothers and left to die. The medieval commentator known as Rashi notes that while Joseph’s pit was devoid of water, it was rife with snakes and scorpions. According to Jewish law, having been thrown into a pit full of snakes and scorpions Joseph was already considered dead since the chances of his survival were slim to none. Yet he was saved. This idea reminds us that no matter how tough or bleak things look, God has the power to redeem us.
In verse 3, David says that he does not want to be mistaken for the wicked who pretend to be kind but are actually full of hatred. The duplicity of Hamas, claiming to fight for the well-being of the Palestinians while perpetuating their suffering, mirrors the wicked in this verse who hide their evil intentions beneath a veneer of goodwill. The affluence of the leaders of Hamas, who are often cited among the wealthiest in the world, starkly contrasts with the poverty of the people they profess to serve, as they exploit aid for tunnels and weapons rather than welfare.
David’s call for retributive justice in verse 4, “Repay them for their deeds and for the evil of their practices,” mirrors the demand for a decisive response to the pain and suffering inflicted upon innocent civilians by the evil Hamas terrorists.
“May He tear them down, never to rebuild them!” In verse 5, David implores God to make this his final confrontation with the perpetrators of evil, to tear them down and ensure they cannot rebuild themselves. Israel, too, yearns for a cessation of the cycle of violence and a decisive end to terror. It is a hope that extends beyond the immediate to the everlasting—where peace can flourish unimpeded by the threat of violence. It expresses the hope that this battle will be the final showdown between good and evil. May God rid the world of Hamas and all those who perpetrate evil once and for all.
The dramatic shift from supplication to a declaration of trust in the Lord occurs in verses 6-7. David blesses God “for He listens to my plea for mercy.” David proclaims his faith in God as his strength and shield, reflecting the resilience and enduring hope of the Jewish people despite conflict. David expresses gratitude to God for the help he trusts is coming. His confidence in God’s deliverance is so strong that he celebrates the victory even before it is final. Similarly, we have no doubt that with God’s help, Israel will win this war. We pray that victory will come without any more suffering and loss of life.
The Psalm concludes in verse 9 with an earnest plea for divine salvation and sustenance. David calls on God to save His nation (Hosanna) and shepherd His people toward a future of peace. This is our fervent call today: God, save your nation! Hosanna!
May the prayers and efforts of those who stand with Israel today reach the heavens, heralding an end to terror and war and the dawn of an era defined by the resolute pursuit of peace.
Of David. O LORD, I call to You; my rock, do not disregard me, for if You hold aloof from me, I shall be like those gone down into the Pit.Listen to my plea for mercy when I cry out to You, when I lift my hands toward Your inner sanctuary.Do not count me with the wicked and evildoers who profess goodwill toward their fellows while malice is in their heart.Pay them according to their deeds, their malicious acts; according to their handiwork pay them, give them their deserts.For they do not consider the LORD’s deeds, the work of His hands. May He tear them down, never to rebuild them!Blessed is the LORD, for He listens to my plea for mercy.The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him. I was helped, and my heart exulted, so I will glorify Him with my song.The LORD is their strength; He is a stronghold for the deliverance of His anointed.Save your nation (Hossana) and bless Your very own people; tend them and sustain them forever.