Haftarah Reading: Ha’azinu (2 Samuel 22:1-51)
Gospel Reading: John 6:1-15
Commentary by: Harim Won
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence. I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies… Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever. 2 Samuel 22:2-4, 51 ESV
Each of us experiences various difficulties and struggles throughout our lives. While the degree and severity of these trials obviously differs among individuals, everyone is subject to them regardless of any amount of wealth, power, or prestige they may possess. Though chosen by God to carry the kingship of Israel, David suffered immensely at the hands of King Saul – it is following David’s deliverance from Saul that he wrote this song of praise which is also found in the Bible as Psalm 18.
Deliverance is a theme which is seen many times throughout the Scriptures and it appears that God has a great talent for intervening on behalf of his people to save them from destruction, whether by an outside enemy or themselves. Earlier in the Torah cycle, we recount the oppression of the Hebrews in Egypt. So great was the suffering of their slavery that they cried out for rescue and “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24 ESV). God sent Moses and with a mighty and outstretched arm delivered his people from slavery. We have spent much of the past year recounting the events of the 40 years following that ensued, leading right up to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15 that God would raise up a prophet from Israel like Moses – the Messiah.
Much later, we see again the Jewish people seeking deliverance from another oppressive regime, this time the seemingly endless and indomitable Roman empire. Again, God sent deliverance, this time through the prophet like Moses, Yeshua. He accomplished greater and greater works as his ministry continued, and some in Judea and Galilee perceived that the Messiah had come to deliver the people of Israel by leading violent revolution and expected him to seize the kingdom from the hands of Caesar.
So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:13-15 ESV
Yeshua did not bring what they had had in mind when it came to deliverance, and by the time his earthly ministry came to an end, many of these people had quit following him entirely. They failed to realize that Yeshua came offering deliverance in its highest and purest form – through his sacrifice, he offered salvation and rescue not only from Rome, but also their own fallen nature.
The very nature of life itself is one of struggle. We might desire to never encounter another difficult situation for the rest of our lives; beyond being unrealistic, those things which challenge us daily present an opportunity to draw nearer to the Father and make us better, stronger people. Of course, we cannot expect to navigate the problems of life on our own and it is in the humility of asking God to deliver us that we may receive his help. In these times, it is important to consider this: what is it that we seek most from God’s deliverance? It becomes our challenge then, to accept that when it comes to our rescue, God’s solution may not be the one we had in mind.