When Klal Yisroel face calamity they say to Hashem, “Save us!” Hashem replies, “Is there amongst you one who fears Heaven?” Klal Yisroel responds, “In the past, in the days of Moshe, Yehoshua, Dovid and Shmuel we had, however, now, as time passes we become increasingly blackened….” Hashem responds, “Place your trust in My name and it will stand for you… And why? For all who place their trust in My name I save.” Similarly, Dovid HaMelech says, “In You Hashem I have taken shelter; I will not be shamed.” (Yalkut Shimoni 141)
One who relies upon his own merit is saved if he indeed has merit. However, in the above situation, where Klal Yisroel says they don’t have one who fears Heaven amongst them, Hashem says, “Then just trust in Me and I will save you. Why will I save you when you are bereft of all merit? For all (even those without merit) who trust in Me I save.”
Hashem has revealed to us a path to attain His salvation that bypasses considerations of merit: Bitachon. A dear son who says to his father, “Though I may have no merit, I know You’ll save me for there is no one else I can turn to,” if his father loves him, and it’s within his ability, he’ll save him regardless of merit.
However, what is perplexing is how the above medrash concludes: Similarly, Dovid HaMelech says, “In You Hashem I have taken shelter; I will not be shamed.” Why is Dovid HaMelech used as an example of one who is saved without consideration of merit? This very same medrash mentions Dovid’s generation as one of the generations that had its own merit to rely upon.
Perhaps the following words of the Medrash Socher Tov (Tehillim 141) provide us the answer: So said Dovid: “There are those who trust in their good deeds, others trust in the merit of their fathers, however, I trust in You, even if I am bereft of good deeds, rather, just because I have called out to You, answer me!”
It seems specifically Dovid HaMelech personified exclusive trust in Hashem as opposed to any specific merit he possessed. “I trust in You.” Not in any of the good deeds he possessed. Though we don’t have the merits Dovid had, we have the same Father whom he chose to trust in over his own merits.
Perhaps this explains why, out of all the great prophets Klal Yisroel had, Dovid HaMelech’s tefillos are the ones eternalized for use in every future generation, by every Jew, despite his merits, when begging for Hashem’s salvation.
Other parts to this series: Inspiration in Bitachon