I’m sure anyone who drives can relate to the following scenario. I was driving along a crowded highway in the pouring rain and could hardly see beyond the spray being thrown up by those in front of me. In the wet haze I realized that the vehicle directly before me was an enormous cement truck that was creating miniature waterfalls in its wake. All of a sudden my windscreen was pelted with small pellets. I immediately grasped that the juggernaut in front was spilling some of its load – and I also realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it! I could only pray that my window wouldn’t get shattered and that this huge apparition would leave at the upcoming exit.
For those few moments my neshama felt as if it was dancing on my tongue, and I could actually taste the fear. Worst of all was the knowledge that I was in no position to stop and somehow extract myself from the situation. Everything was out of my control.
Life sometimes feels this way. We trundle along the often rain-swept road that is our existence, and sometimes others cause us untold harm in a manner that leaves us with nothing that we can do about it. It’s possible they don’t even know what they are doing. Truth be told, many times they shed their load of harm without a thought, and the pellets of hurt threaten all the protective defenses you may have built around you.
I have learned that many people fear this more than most anything else. They know Hashem is with them and they trust in His ultimate good, but when life’s grit careens off their windscreen, then it becomes personal, and they are petrified.
“Will Hashem even listen to a no-good specimen such as myself? How can I rectify all the damage I have wrought? Is there any hope for me?” As one becomes pelted by life’s difficulties, it’s almost impossible to accept that somehow you will get through the storm and hopefully grow from it. Instead you freeze in fear as your windows become endangered, you realize just how far you have slid and you lose all confidence.
David Hamelech had just these very fears. He knew that in time the nation of Israel would be redeemed, but he worried that his own worth would be found wanting, and he would never see that redemption. As a leader he often spoke of his people’s uncertainties, but as a private individual he too was frightened.
As always, every word of David’s Tehillim is given to all future generations. These words have been marinated in the thousands of tears Yidden have spilled saying them, drenching them with the sanctity of all our hearts. This particular kapitel is given even greater immediacy, for it is lamnatzei’ach leDavid lehazkir, “a psalm of David, to serve as a memorial.”
Elokim lehatzileini…, “Hashem, come to my rescue; G-d, to my help hasten.” David cries out that he is in great danger. When faced with an emergency one does not stop to think; one rescues those in peril quickly. David is saying that he is just such an emergency case. Please, he begs, don’t stop to reckon my worth, Hashem. Yeivoshu veyachperu mevakshei nafshi…, “Let those who seek my soul be ashamed and humiliated; let those who desire my hurt fall back and be disgraced.” Those who wish me harm want to destroy my soul, my connection with You.
Yashuvu al eikev bashtam…, “Let them be turned back because of their shame, those who say, Aha, Aha.’ ” This world is full of those who just love to throw their pellets, and when you are stricken by them they just laugh. David asks that they should feel the shame of their deeds and fall back.
Yasisu veyismechu becha kol mevakshecha…, “Let them exult and rejoice in You, all those who seek You, and let them say continually, Be magnified, Hashem,’ those who love Your deliverance.” This world is not a vacuum. We are meant to fill it with knowledge of Hashem’s greatness. If we allow the grit throwers to take over the highway that is life, then everything we hold sacred will be in danger. We can’t just be mute sightseers in this world; we must exult and rejoice in Hashem’s goodness.
David is telling us that it’s not enough to turn to Hashem only when you face peril. We must continually articulate Hashem’s will at all times so that when desperation visits, we feel a deep knowledge and trust in Hashem’s ultimate deliverance.
Ezri umefalti ata…, “As for me…my Help and my Rescuer is You, Hashem; do not delay.” Holy Yidden, we all have moments when we are thrown into the turmoil of fear and insecurity. For each of us it is at a different place, and it is a unique pain. David tells us of the path toward healing light. “My Help, my Rescuer – is You, Hashem.” This says it all, and it says it best. There is nothing else but Hashem, and with Him we need nothing more.
Yes, the stones will fly, and your life may seem recklessly tumbling behind forces greater than yourself. But if you remain focused on that one shaft of light, the shine of your honest trust in Hashem, then He will rescue you. It is with this knowledge that we have been able to carry on despite all adversity, and now more than ever we need to realize this in our actual lives.
There is one problem when a scribbler of mere words tries to express his feelings through pen and paper. Words are a fine means of communication, but they are in and of themselves limited. It is impossible to fully articulate what the heart feels or what the soul wants.
In the few words of this short kapitel, David, the greatest of all masters of words, is reaching out and tugging every one of us closer to the safety that is Hashem. This great leader, the warrior who led huge armies, weeps with us all and tells himself and us that although he has fears, deep down he knows he will be rescued. That salvation will come from Hashem, nothing more and nothing less.
Every Yid should carry this thought with him so that when things get difficult, he knows where his truth lies.
Text Copyright © 2009 by Torah.org.