William Ernest Henley, the nineteenth-century English writer, said in his best-known poem, “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”1 These words have always appealed to me. Yet I spoke them more defiantly when I was seventeen than I would today. I have learned through the years that we encounter circumstances in which we are neither master nor captain but victim. Unless someone helps at such a time, our situation can become hopeless. We need a deliverer, whether surgeon, attorney, lifeguard, or good friend. We need someone who will come to our rescue.
Sometimes an entire nation needs deliverance. That was the case with Armenia at the turn of the twentieth century or Greece during World War II. In the past two decades, several countries of Africa have received attention and support when the ravages of drought, war, or poverty have exceeded their ability to survive.
Our Bible Lesson is about a body of people who were not even a nation. They were slaves, with no status or organization of their own. The only thing holding them together was their predicament. They could not expect outside powers to help them, since they had nothing with which to bargain. They needed a deliverer, and there was no deliverer who would help.