by Jews for Jesus | October 18 2023
In times of crisis for Israel, it’s easy to get lost in the moment. We get hit constantly with terrifying news updates, take heartbreaking calls from friends and family, and then consequently, we fall into a constant state of high alert. And it becomes hard to see past the dangers of the moment to see the bigger picture of hope.
But as Jewish people, we are not left without resources from which to take comfort. Our people have been through strife, war, and tragedy before. And God has always been with us.
One of the best resources for us in times of crisis is the book of Psalms. The Psalms record the faith and courage of our ancestors, who were bold in crying out to God and resolute in their hope despite the worst of what the world could throw at them. And these and the other Scriptures have sustained our people down through the ages.
Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkin, author and lecturer, tells a story of Jewish refugees who survived the Holocaust. When they passed through their home in Eastern Europe, they discovered that their village had been burned to the ground. They found a few damaged but readable texts in the cellar of what once was their synagogue. Though they still had much traveling to do, and though they were surrounded by signs of death, they stopped. There, by the light of a candle, they found comfort in reading and repeating the ancient words.1
It is our prayer that you may find the same comfort, meaning, and hope in the words compiled here.
I cry aloud to God,
aloud to God, and he will hear me.
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;
my soul refuses to be comforted.
When I remember God, I moan;
when I meditate, my spirit faints.
“Will the Lord spurn forever,
And never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?
Are his promises at an end for all time?
Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has he in anger shut up his compassion?”
Then I said, “I will appeal to this,
to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
What god is great like our God?
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?
How long will your wrath burn like fire?
Remember how short my time is!
For what vanity you have created all the children of man!
What man can live and never see death?
Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?
Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,
which by your faithfulness you swore to David?
Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked,
and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations,
with which your enemies mock, O Lord,
with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.2
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
O offspring of Abraham, his servant,
children of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He is the Lord our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
the covenant that he made with Abraham,
his sworn promise to Isaac,
which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute,
to Israel as an everlasting covenant.
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.
And now my head shall be lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
The Avinu Malkeinu is a prayer read by Jewish people around the world during our High Holy Days each year. This beautiful prayer reminds us to ask our Father-King for everything we need. Below are selected passages from it for you to pray.
Our Father, our King, inscribe us in the book of good life.
Our Father, our King, inscribe us in the book of redemption and deliverance.
Our Father, our King, inscribe us in the book of livelihood and sustenance.
Our Father, our King, inscribe us in the book of merits.
Our Father, our King, inscribe us in the book of pardon and forgiveness. 3
We are praying for you, too. May our Father, our King, comfort and provide for you and yours.
1 Rabbi Dov Peretz Elkins, Yom Kippur Readings: Inspiration, Information and Contemplation (Vermont: Jewish Lights, 2010), 103.
2 Many brave Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers have already lost their lives defending Israel—may their memories be a blessing. We pray for the safety of those fighting now, believing that the Lord can protect them. We are also honoring the ultimate sacrifice that some are called upon to give. And we know that this psalm addresses not only physical safety, but deliverance from things like fear and shame. As we read through the honest cries of the psalmists who struggled like we struggle, we trust in the Lord to provide protection from every enemy, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
In this prayer for soldiers who are going into harm’s way, we think of some of our own staff who have been called up to service in the IDF. We know, as the psalmists knew, that not all soldiers defending Israel will come back home. But the ultimate hope of Israel is the new world and the resurrection to new life. The central claim of the New Testament is that the Messiah has won victory over death to make that hope a reality.