‘Resist despair’: Ukraine’s Zelensky quotes from Book of Psalms in UK

'Resist despair': Ukraine's Zelensky quotes from Book of Psalms in UK

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was in London for talks with UK lawmakers on Wednesday, quoted from the Bible’s Book of Psalms as an analogy for Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine.

The book which Zelesnky quoted from was given to him as a gift for his Jewish calendar birthday, 17 Shevat, which incidentally fell on Wednesday. His birthday, as marked in the Gregorian calendar, took place on January 25.

The book, a special-edition, leather-bound Book of Psalms translated in its entirety to Zelensky’s native Ukrainian, was given to the president during his latest meeting with Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine vice president, Rabbi Raphael Rotman, a number of days ago.

Zelensky’s gift also includes an engraving of his full name, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelensky.

What Zelensky quoted – and its hidden meaning

The Ukrainian president quoted from verses 4-7 of chapter 3 in the Book of Psalms: “But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory and He Who raises up my head. With my voice, I call to the Lord, and He answered me from His holy mount to eternity. I will not fear ten thousands of people, who have set themselves against me all around.”

The special edition Book of Psalms given to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for his 45th birthday (credit: Federation of Jewish Communities in Ukraine)

Zelensky explained that “if you pay attention to the Psalms of David, you will pay attention [to] how often they ask the Lord to hear their prayers. We never know whether our prayer has come close to perfection and whether the Lord heard it.

“That’s why in harsh times, when we lose loved ones when people lose children…when a criminal war is conducted on your people, faith may stagger. It happens that people think that God doesn’t hear and will not hear prayer. It is important to us as leaders of nations to resist despair.”

Zelensky further stressed that the words written in the Book of Psalms and their determination “balance the doubts that are found later in the book.

“Because this is confidence in the Lord, who hears and who sees what is in the person’s heart,” he said.

Zelensky visited Britain on Wednesday to drum up aid, winning a pledge to train Ukrainian pilots on advanced NATO fighter jets, a big symbolic step up in Western military support against Russia’s invasion.

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