Was it a Miracle? Israelis Reach for the Psalms after Iranian Attack

There's been a spike in searches for the Psalms in Israel. We just survived one of the deadliest attacks in the nation's history. In the early hours of April 13, 2024, Iran attacked directly and with astonishing force. It is honestly a miracle that we survived.

Google trends, which documents internet search patterns, revealed that what Israelis were searching for more than anything else was “Tehilim”(Psalms) later that day.1

Caught between the horror of the attack and the sudden calm that followed, we were all in a bit of shock and awe. We have been saved! Delivered! Not only did we live to tell the tale, but it's almost like it never happened. Hardly any damage was done at all, despite the immense amount of fire power that was hammering down on us. How? And will would happen now? Will it escalate? Nobody really knows for sure. Israeli writer, Sarah Tuttle-Singer, caught the atmosphere of the-day-after-the-night-before well, expressing the thoughts of so many:

“I’m feeling many things – mostly just overwhelming gratitude that we managed to blink and open our eyes back in a world that almost resembles normal. The sky is blue. The nail salon is open. The coffee is robust. But I’m also on edge, too. Last night, I heard the siren again – that primal sound mixed down to one long howl, and I felt my stomach drop, and my heart stammer. It was only the tv with a news replay, and even though I knew this intellectually, the tears poured down in rivers of salt and silt over my cheeks.” (Times of Israel, April 15, 2023)

We all went on our way the next morning, bleary-eyed, and work continued as normal. Even though the world may think this is a given, in Israel we know it could have all ended very differently. It was miraculous. Many have started taking it for granted that the Iron Dome can automatically neutralize every threat without any problems, but that's not the reality. Cruise missiles and drones fly horizontally and relatively low and slow. They traveled with small payloads over Iraq and Jordan. Some crashed on the way, but most of these were shot down by planes of US, UK, and others, as well as Israel. However, there were in excess of 100 larger ballistic missiles that leave the atmosphere which were coming down upon Israel from above—from space. These were all shot down by the Israeli Arrow defense systems. Omer Alali explains it like this:

“It seems that the public does not understand the historical magnitude of the event, apparently because we have grown into reality with an Iron Dome, but this is a completely different event. The story that begins in the 90's with the beginning of the development of Arrow 1 and 2 (later came the Iron Dome, David's sling, Arrow 3, 4 and Iron Beam). Unlike Iron Dome, which since 2011 has had thousands of operational opportunities to learn and improve, the first time Arrow 2 and 3 faced a real operational challenge was in the current war. This is about the interception of one single missile by each of them. That's it. To try to illustrate the meaning of things, imagine a person who practices basketball for 30 years alone, and the first time he steps on the court is for a one on one game against Michael Jordan, and he wins, 100:0. This is the event”. ~ Former Analyst at Israeli Defense Intelligence & Prime Minister's Office, Omer Alali on X.

Given this extraordinary rescue and the fact that the Iranian threat is by no means eliminated, you can understand the disquiet among the people here in Israel. It seems as one everyone went to their keyboard and began typing: “Tehilim”. Psalms.

Psalms in the Israeli mindset

Now. You should know that the Psalms are seen slightly differently by Jewish people than they are by Christians. Many people here in Israel see the book of Psalms as a kind of lucky charm. Say this Psalm so many times if you're ill, or that one if you need help with finances… you get the idea. It's a mistake that can be easily made, when we replace God with something that He gave us for our benefit. God gave us His word, but we must treasure Him more than the book. Still, even if accessed with misunderstanding, God is gracious and still speaks through His word, making Himself known to those who seek Him in truth.

One of the hostages, Sapir Cohen, shared how she believes the Psalms are what kept her going during her grueling time in captivity.

Early in September 2023, she had the feeling something really bad was going to happen to her, and heard that praying Psalm 27 every day for 30 days was a good thing to do. So she started to recite it every day and over time she learned it by heart. Psalm 27 starts like this:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?

It's one of the most pertinent Psalms she could possibly have been reading, given the severe trial she was about to endure. Verse 12 of the Psalm even mentions the word Hamas!!

The fact that Sapir had been reciting Psalm 27 every single day for a month meant that it was burned in her memory. It had gone deep into her soul.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
    for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they breathe out violence [in Hebrew, “Hamas” חמס]

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong, and let your heart take courage;
    wait for the Lord!

She finished her 30th day of reciting that Psalm on October 7. This fact gave her the encouragement to feel that God was with her, helping her even deep in the tunnels of Gaza, and that she would survive to tell the tale.

There's a Psalm for that

Psalm 23 is one of the most comforting Psalms there is, and 91 is a great Psalm if you feel in need of protection. Indeed a search for “Psalms against missiles” was made! Well, there's a Psalm for that too:

They surrounded me like bees;
    they went out like a fire among thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
I was pushed hard, so that I was falling,
    but the Lord helped me.

The Lord is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:12-14)

Recently, when Israel was called to pray at the Western Wall, we turned to Psalm 130 and Psalm 22 to call out to God for help. But now, people are searching for Psalms of thanksgiving. We have looked death in the eye—again—and lived to tell the tale. Again. Now, Israel seems to be homing in on Psalm 100 in particular according to the trends in Google searches. And no wonder. We are very glad to be alive, and grateful to the watchful God who keeps Israel. Here's how it goes:

Psalm 100: A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.



  1. Jerusalem Post, Why are Israelis searching for Psalms more than news amid attacks? April 14, 2023

Photo by Firmbee.com on Unsplash

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