Israel in Crisis: Recite These Psalms

October 8, 2023

Israel is currently in an unprecedented crisis – a nightmare we have never experienced before. Hamas terrorists have brutally murdered hundreds of innocent civilians, dozens of men, women and children have been taken hostage and rockets are raining down on Israeli towns and communities. What is the appropriate response to such a catastrophe?

Throughout history, Jews have turned to Psalms as a way to connect with God during moments of joy and hardship alike. Here are selected Psalms that resonate with the current events in Israel.

Let’s unite in prayer and stand with Israel at this difficult time.

Psalm 27

David begins Psalm 27 with a statement of unwavering faith in God: “The LORD is my light and my help; whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life, whom should I dread?” He then describes how, even as his enemies approach and attempt to ambush him, he puts his trust in God who he knows will watch over him and protect him. As the Psalm continues, his unwavering faith seems to falter and he cries out to God “Do not hide Your face from me; do not thrust aside Your servant in anger; You have ever been my help. Do not forsake me, do not abandon me, O God, my deliverer.”

Rabbi Amnon Bazak explains that in this Psalm, David expresses three different moods that a person might experience: joy, fear and crisis. “The beauty of this psalm lies in its integration of these three periods and the faith in God that is interwoven throughout. Always, at all times, a person comes back to expressing his faith in God. At joyous times, he recognizes that it is God Who is behind his happy situation. When beset with doubts, he addresses God in prayer and supplication. In times of trouble, he maintains his faith that God will yet show him His goodness in the land of life.”

According to the sages, David recited this Psalm while fighting against Amalekite bands (I Sam. 30:17) who had kidnapped his wife and children. Amalek was known for its cruelty and lack of morality, attacking the old and weak at the back of the Israelite camp as the Jews journeyed through the desert. Hamas and the terrorists who perpetrate evil against Israel and her citizens are modern-day Amalakites. Let us join together to recite the words of King David in response to their recent atrocities:

Psalm 27:

Of David. The LORD is my light and my help; whom should I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life, whom should I dread?

When evil men assail me to devour my flesh—it is they, my foes and my enemies, who stumble and fall.

Should an army besiege me, my heart would have no fear; should war beset me, still would I be confident.

One thing I ask of the LORD, only that do I seek: to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD, to frequent His temple.

He will shelter me in His pavilion on an evil day, grant me the protection of His tent, raise me high upon a rock.

Now is my head high over my enemies round about; I sacrifice in His tent with shouts of joy, singing and chanting a hymn to the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; have mercy on me, answer me.

In Your behalf my heart says: “Seek My face!” O LORD, I seek Your face.

Do not hide Your face from me; do not thrust aside Your servant in anger; You have ever been my help.

Do not forsake me, do not abandon me, O God, my deliverer.

Though my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will take me in.

Show me Your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my watchful foes.

Do not subject me to the will of my foes, for false witnesses and unjust accusers have appeared against me.

Had I not the assurance that I would enjoy the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living…

Look to the LORD; be strong and of good courage! O look to the LORD!

Psalm 83

Psalm 83 lists eleven enemies who, throughout history, sought to destroy the Nation of Israel. Asaph seeks the Lord’s vengeance and asks that He come down in a grand display of omnipotence to smite all of Israel’s enemies. He invokes the incidents recorded in the Book of Judges, when the Lord helped the judges destroy all the arrogant leaders of their adversaries. Oreb and Zeeb were two princes of Midian who were killed by Gideon during the defeat of the Midianites recorded in Judges 7:25, while Zebah and Zalmunna were two kings of Midian killed during this war as well 8:10-12.

Just as Asaph asks God not to be silent in the face of Israel’s previous enemies, we beg Him to “deal with” our current enemies as well. “May they be frustrated and terrified, disgraced and doomed forever,” and, ultimately, “May they know that Your name, Yours alone, is the LORD, supreme over all the earth.”

Psalm 83:

A song, a psalm of Asaph.

O God, do not be silent; do not hold aloof; do not be quiet, O God!

For Your enemies rage, Your foes assert themselves.

They plot craftily against Your people, take counsel against Your treasured ones.

They say, “Let us wipe them out as a nation; Israel’s name will be mentioned no more.”

Unanimous in their counsel they have made an alliance against You—

the clans of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites,

Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek, Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;

Assyria too joins forces with them; they give support to the sons of Lot. Selah.

Deal with them as You did with Midian, with Sisera, with Jabin, at the brook Kishon—

who were destroyed at En-dor, who became dung for the field.

Treat their great men like Oreb and Zeeb, all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,

who said, “Let us take the meadows of God as our possession.”

O my God, make them like thistledown, like stubble driven by the wind.

As a fire burns a forest, as flames scorch the hills,

pursue them with Your tempest, terrify them with Your storm.

Cover their faces with shame so that they seek Your name, O LORD.

May they be frustrated and terrified, disgraced and doomed forever.

May they know that Your name, Yours alone, is the LORD, supreme over all the earth.

Psalm 121

Psalm 121 is often one of the first Psalms that people turn to in times of crisis. It is a beacon of hope during challenging times, emphasizing the unwavering protection of God. The psalmist declares that the Lord is our guardian and protector. But unlike a human guard, “the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.” God’s watchful eye never strays from His people or His land, offering constant vigilance day and night.

This Psalm is especially fitting to say for the Israeli soldiers who are at the front lines, fighting the terrorists and defending the citizens of Israel, as well as those who have been taken hostage. We beg the Almighty to oversee their “going and coming.” In Hebrew, we say “tzeitchem l’shalom uvoachem l’shalem – go in peace and come in peace.” We pray for their safe and speedy return.

Psalm 121:

A song for ascents. I turn my eyes to the mountains; from where will my help come?

My help comes from the LORD, maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot give way; your guardian will not slumber;

See, the guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps!

The LORD is your guardian, the LORD is your protection at your right hand.

By day the sun will not strike you, nor the moon by night.

The LORD will guard you from all harm; He will guard your life.

The LORD will guard your going and coming now and forever.

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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