16 Elul 5778
27 August 2019
Commencing on the 1st of Elul (and continuing until Hoshana Rabbah), we recite Psalm 27 daily. Many attribute the authorship of Psalm 27 to David, although there are some who say that it initially written by him, and other(s) have added in material to the original text. It describes situations in which David felt he was being pursued by his enemies, and he pleads to God to help protect him.
Psalm 27 begins by affirming full faith and confidence in God: “Adonai is my light and my help. Whom shall I fear? Adonai is the strength of my life. Whom shall I dread?”
It then goes on to reveal concerns for safety: “Do not hide from me, do not reject Your servant. You have always been my help, do not abandon me. Forsake me not, my God of deliverance.”
Finally, the author reaffirms faith and trust in God, stating: “Yet I have faith that I shall surely see Adonai’s goodness in the land of the living. Hope in Adonai. Be strong, take courage, and hope in Adonai.”
In the structure of the psalm we see a journey of someone who is desperate for answers, facing the possibility of being attacked by their enemies - confidence, doubt, and finally, affirmation.
Our Sages interpreted the psalm as alluding to Rosh HaShanah ("Adonai is my light...”) and Yom Kippur (“...and my help”) - light referring to the day of judgement, help (or salvation) referring to having faith that God will forgive our sins.
As we travel through the month of Elul, let us reflect on the words of Psalm 27, and how we too can journey through our own challenges as we work towards the Yamim Nora’im, affirming our faith, acknowledging our fears, and reaffirming our beliefs, and by doing this, allow ourselves to utilise the month of Elul to prepare for the upcoming days of reconciliation and judgement.
--Reverend Sam Zwarenstein