Troubled Times - and Timeless Wisdom
The threat of war is a daily reality for Israel. We saw this again recently, when an Iranian drone launched from Syria violated Israeli air space, and Israel responded by shooting down the drone and hitting military targets in Syria. An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was shot down by the Syrian army; thankfully, the pilots survived.
It is astonishing to me when I think that, in spite of continual challenges like this, Israel remains the creative, productive country - the “light unto the nations” (Isaiah 49:6) - that it is. Whatever the circumstances, daily life in the Jewish state goes on. One of the reasons for this, I strongly believe, is that it is a nation built on a foundation of faith.
At the heart of that faith, of course, is the Bible. For millennia, both Jews and Christians have turned to it for wisdom and guidance in their time of need. One of the passages they turn to most frequently is Psalm 23.
These profound verses, written by King David, speak of God’s provision and protection for those who follow him. They are words that everyone can identify with - who among us has not at one time been weary, hungry, or fearful? In his early life, David had been a shepherd, and he includes the powerful image of the Lord with his rod and staff acting as a shepherd who protects us from danger and never lets us stray.
In verse 5, the image changes to that of a banquet, with God Himself as host. David speaks of the banquet being prepared in the presence of enemies - the last place someone would want to be under normal circumstances. Yet, David is not afraid, because God has promised to be with him.
This is God’s promise to all of us, and we are reminded of it every time we turn to the timeless wisdom of the Bible. It is especially important to remember this promise at times of trouble and turmoil, like we see today in Israel and throughout the world.
My friends, as Israel continues the ongoing pursuit of peace and security, let us continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and for the day when Israel’s enemies will extend their hands in friendship to the Jewish state and the Jewish people. May we all see the day when God’s gift of shalom, peace, will cover the entire world.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
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