With God we will gain the victory,
and he will trample down our enemies. — Psalm 108:13
A speaker wanted to illustrate a point, so she held out a make-believe carrot with her hand representing a stick. Then she proceeded to chase the carrot around the room as she delivered a monologue that went something like this:
When we are children, we can’t wait to be big, so we chase being an adult until we hit our twenties and find that we are still not satisfied. Then we think that when we find our soul mate, we will be happy. But then we find that marriage doesn’t solve all problems and creates some new ones. So we think, maybe when we have kids we will be satisfied. We have kids, more challenges. We chase a better job, then retirement, and the chase never ends.
The speaker’s point? We can spend our whole life chasing a carrot that is never within our reach – the more we advance, the farther it gets from our reach. Sound familiar?
Psalm 108 is unique because it takes parts of two psalms – Psalms 57 and 60 – and puts them together. Why would King David have done such a thing? Psalm 57 was written when he was hiding from King Saul, who had pursued him for years in an attempt to kill him. Psalm 60 was written after David had become king, when neighboring countries attacked him. These psalms reflect very different experiences and very different times of David’s life. So why did David join them together?
Jewish tradition teaches that David saw with prophetic vision that the Jewish people would go through both of these experiences as a nation. They would have to spend thousands of years hiding and escaping persecution just like when David ran from Saul. Even when they settled back in the land of Israel, they would experience many attacks just as David did when he became the King of Israel. David put both psalms together as praise for messianic times, when both types of experiences will have passed and the battles finally won.
David’s experiences have been reflected in the plight of the Jews throughout history, and these experiences are still reflected in our lives today. Like David, we spend time running away from bad situations only to find that when we have reached our goal, we still have problems. It’s like chasing the carrot that we can never reach. We never seem to achieve success.
Thankfully, in the last verse, David reveals the secret to truly achieving success — anytime, anywhere, and under any circumstances: “With God we will gain the victory . . .” When we leave the chase and simply have faith, we can be happy wherever we are. We may never reach that carrot, but when we receive God and trust Him, we will find that, in fact, we have everything.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President