1We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.
2How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.
3For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.
4Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.
5Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
6For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
7But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
8In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
9But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.
10Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves.
11Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen.
12Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.
13Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.
14Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.
15My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,
16For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.
17All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.
18Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
The story of the ancient Israelites is a story of hardship and affliction, a story of pain and trials, and yet, an inevitable story of triumph. They were guided by the Lord their God, and there they were regaled with stories by their fathers: the story of the God of Abraham and Isaac, the God who led them by the hand from the Egyptians, the God of Moses, the God of Joshua, the God of Gideon; the God who took 300 men and led the army to conquer forces well-armed, well larger than thier own. And there, there they placed their trust and their hope in Him. They lived by His law, they lived by His love, and in His compassion. And they knew He would deliver them, for He always had. And yet as they were afflicted and as they struggled, they saw Him being distant, and they wondered where He was. The Psalmist cries out, God, where are You? For I know that we do not live by the sword or the bow, I cannot put my trust in that. I can only put it in Your love and compassion and mercy, in Your grace and Your kindness. And yet even though he struggled, wondering where the Lord was, amidst all that, he knew that the God of his fathers would deliever him, for he was regaled with those stories of old, and he knew the story of their traveling through the wilderness, and the captivity and the freedom that came from the hand of the Lord. Through it all he placed his trust, he placed his love in God's great hands and God's great mercy.
Today we look around and see a world not too different, not too unlike that of the ancient Israelites. Though the situations have changed, though the stories have changed, though the enemies have changed, there is that inevitible connection that transcends time and space, that transcends the ages and the generations, that tells us that wickedness, sin and wickedness, iniquity and hardship, they abide in this world. So that when goodness and mercy and love and compassion seem far off, where should trust be placed? When we look to the captives and the hostages, when we look to the people that are trafficked, when we look at the slaves who are taken or the people who are murdered, where, where do we put our trust? It must be in the Lord God Almighty, that God of our fathers and the God of the prophets and apostles, the disciples and the saints, the kings of days gone by and the great and mighty warriors who resided in the Lord's name. And there we must know that the sword or the bow does not triumph, it does not conquer, but rather it is God's great might and God's great power that abides in all things and that eventually does, regardless of the challenges, regardless of the struggles and the adversity, triumph. It triumphs in the name of righteousness and justice, it triumphs in the name of love, the love that the Lord has for all of His children and that draws them closer to Him as a father draws his own child to his bosom. Regardless of the challenges we face, regardless of the challenges we see, regardless of the number of hostages taken, regardless of whether we know their stories or not, we must trust in the Lord, knowing that His righteousness will prevail from all ages, in all ages, according to His great mercy, His kindness, His love, His grace, His compassion.
Lord, grant this unto us all.