Elul Meditation: Rescue and Shelter

Psalm 27 is read morning and evening throughout this month of Elul.

The first section of Psalm 27 is about rescue (vss. 1-3) and the second about shelter (vss. 4-6).

Not everyone divides the Psalm the same way. John Goldingay, whose excellent commentary in Psalms is praiseworthy, sees the structure differently:

vss. 1-2 A basic statement of trust.
vss. 3-6 A repetition and expansion of the statement.
vss. 7-12 A new section, perhaps added later, perhaps moving from congregational affirmation to personal lament.
vss. 13-14 A return, in part, to a statement of trust.

Goldingay is no minor commentator and perhaps his outline has merit. Yet, it is easy to notice the theme of rescue which unites vss. 1-3 and shelter which unites vss. 4-6.

My rescue

מעוז חיי
Ma’oz chayyai
Strength of my life

צרי ואיבי
Tzarai v’oyvai
My enemies and foes

תקום עלי מלחמה
Takum alai milchamah
Will arise war against me

שבתי בבית יי
Dwelling in the house of Adonai

ולבקר בהיכלו
Ul’vakeir b’heichalo
And to inquire in his Temple

יצפנני בסכה
Yitzfeneini b’sukkah
He will hide me in his sukkah (shelter)

יסתרני בסתר אהלו
Yastireini b’seter ohalo
He will hide me in the cover of his tent

ואזבחה באהלו
v’ezbechah b’ohalo
I will offer [sacrifices] in his tent

In this month of Elul, Psalm 27 is a fitting meditation. As we consider our personal guilt and the offenses against God and other people that have filled our lives, we need a rescue and a shelter.

The psalm will go on, as Goldingay and many other commentators note, to speak with less certainty, with the voice of urgent request and not certain affirmation. This too is something we need to understand, that our certain faith faces the uncertainty of trials. Will our belief in God as our rescue and shelter carry us? It is good to ponder this during Elul and throughout the days of awe.


About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Faith, Holidays, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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