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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Greenberg

<i>ADONAI Ori</i> – The Lord my Light

ADONAI is my light and my salvation: whom should I fear? ADONAI is the stronghold of my life: whom should I dread?” Ps. 27:1

These opening words in Psalm 27 are a bold proclamation of faith and of hope for anyone who has ever been overwhelmed by darkness, whether the darkness of night, of trouble, or of spiritual conflict. The infinite and profound name of ADONAI, and all that name entails, is the psalmist light, salvation, stronghold, etc. These verses set the tone for the entire psalm which is a marvelous expression of trust in ADONAI’s protection and unfailing love. In Judaism Psalm 27 has been adopted as a prayer during the penitential period during the month of Elul leading to and including the Fall Holy Days of Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. “ADONAI is my light” relates to Rosh HaShana, “and my salvation” to Yom Kippur, and the phrase “He will hide me in His sukkah”(v. 5) to Sukkot (see Vayikra Rabba 21:4).

David proclaims “ADONAI ori (אורי)” ADONAI is my light. This name of God is found only in Ps. 27:1. The only parallel phrase is found Isa. 60:1 “Arise shine, for your light has come.” ADONAI ori is not simply a metaphor comparing ADONAI to light. He is the psalmist’s light, as well as his salvation and his stronghold. ADONAI is salvation regarding everything that oppresses the psalmist (and us), and his stronghold regarding everything that jeopardizes his life. The psalmist is victorious because his life is hidden in ADONAI as if it is hidden behind a fortress built on a rock (Ps. 31:3). Conversely, the evil doers who devour his flesh (v. 2) are conceived as wild beasts who live in the wild exposed to all elements and seeking to devour flesh. Those who devour flesh signifies anyone who pursues another individual seeking his/her destruction whether physically, verbally through slander or backbiting, or in any hostile way. Yet the psalmist continues to trust in ADONAI assured that his adversaries and foes are defeated.

Notice that David is in the midst of his troubles, yet he regards the overthrow of his enemies as an accomplished fact. He does not allow himself to be disturbed by his situation, even if communities (armies) and not just individuals attack him. He his bold and unperturbed because ADONAI (the Creator of the Universe) is his light.

During the remaining days of Elul and on into Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot, let’s meditate on Psalm 27 being encouraged as the psalmist to boldly proclaim that ADONAI is our light and our salvation. His light is like the sun only with no eclipse, it never dims. No matter the darkness in which we find ourselves— our circumstances, our health, work, finances, families, etc. or those who seek to devour us physically, spiritually or emotionally, remember and proclaim that ADONAI is our light and our salvation. Our foes are already defeated. Like the psalmist we are victorious because we are hidden in ADONAI as in a well-defended fortress. Whom shall we fear or dread? No one, because ADONAI is our light and our salvation.

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