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Updated: Dec 1, 2023

David’s conflict with Absalom, as well as the deeper spiritual and moral lessons embedded within this historical narrative. * Psalms in English followed by a liturgical explanation inspired by the teachings of Malbim.

by Rabbi Boruch Merkur

A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.

O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me.

Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah.

But You, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the One who lifts my head high.

I call out to the Lord, and He answers me from His holy mountain. Selah.

I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.

I will not fear the tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O God, save me, my God, for You have struck all my enemies on the cheek; You have broken the teeth of the wicked.

For salvation belongs to God; may Your blessing be upon Your people.

O Lord, how vast the sea of my foes, waves of adversaries rising in tumult. Among them, voices echo, challenging the sanctity of my reign, casting aspersions upon my soul. They see me as a man forsaken, devoid of Your divine salvation. Yet, in this sea of turmoil, You stand as my unyielding shield, encircling me with Your grace, lifting my spirit from the depths of despair.

In the shadow of rebellion, under the darkened sky of my son’s defiance, I found solace in Your presence. Though the Ark of the Covenant returned to Jerusalem, my heart remained steadfast in Your promise. From every corner of my exile, I called out to You, and from Your holy mountain, Your voice answered, a whisper amidst the storm, affirming Your unwavering support.

In the stillness of night, when plots were woven to ensnare me, I lay down in peace and slept. Against the counsel of my enemies, You cradled me in safety. I awoke, not to the shadows of death, but to the dawning of Your providence. The thousands arrayed against me, the clamor of impending war, dwindled before my faith in Your sustenance.

“Arise, O Lord,” my cry in the midst of battle, a plea for Your divine intervention. In my moment of need, You struck down the architects of betrayal, their cunning rendered as naught. You, my God, delivered a blow to their pride, their wicked intentions shattered like fragile clay.

Salvation belongs to You, O Lord. In the throes of conflict, when brother turned against brother, Your mercy prevailed. Your blessing spread over Your people, sparing them from the ravages of war. In the demise of Absalom, the war ceased, a testament to Your desire for peace over destruction.

May Your blessing forever rest upon Your people, shielding them from the perils of strife. In Your salvation lies our hope, a beacon guiding us through the tempest of human folly. In Your love, we find our refuge, our strength, and our eternal salvation.

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