Psalm 44

Psalm 44
The Condition of Israel as Assessed by the Remnant
Psalm 44. Psalm 44 is likewise a Psalm of “the sons of Korah”, and it is “an instruction”; something that the wise will teach to the remnant of Israel in a coming day. This song prophetically gives us the prayer of the faithful remnant to God as those who are cast off by God; cast out of their land under God’s chastening hand.
To the chief Musician. Of the sons of Korah. An instruction.
1 O God, with our ears have we heard, our fathers have told us, the work thou wroughtest in their days, in the days of old:
2 Thou, by thy hand, didst dispossess the nations, but them thou didst plant; thou didst afflict the peoples, but them didst thou cause to spread out.
3 For not by their own sword did they take possession of the land, neither did their own arm save them; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst delight in them.
4 Thou thyself art my king, O God: command deliverance for Jacob.
5 Through thee will we push down our adversaries; through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
6 For I will not put confidence in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
7 For thou hast saved us from our adversaries, and hast put them to shame that hate us.
8 In God will we boast all the day, and we will praise thy name for ever. Selah.
vv.1-8 God’s Past and Future Deliverance of Israel. The faithful review God’s past deliverance of Israel in “the days of old” when He dispossessed the nations before Israel, made Israel to grow in the land of Canaan and be victorious over their enemies. They acknowledge it was not by Israel‘s own sword that they took possession of the land, nor through their own strength, but it was through the light of God’s countenance. It was because He had delight in them that He allowed them to possess the land. They confess God is their king, and ask Him to command deliverance for Jacob, as a king issues a royal commandment. As “in the days of old”, the remnant believe that with God’s strength they can push down their adversaries. They will not trust in their own strength or skill, but they will trust in God in whom is their boast, and they will praise His name forever.
9 But thou hast cast off, and put us to confusion, and dost not go forth with our armies;
10 Thou hast made us to turn back from the adversary, and they that hate us spoil for themselves;
11 Thou hast given us over like sheep appointed for meat, and hast scattered us among the nations;
12 Thou hast sold thy people for nought, and hast not increased thy wealth by their price;
13 Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a mockery and a derision for them that are round about us;
14 Thou makest us a byword among the nations, a shaking of the head among the peoples.
15 All the day my confusion is before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,
16 Because of the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and the avenger.
vv.9-16 Israel’s Condition as Cast Off. The faithful now speak of their condition as “cast off” and “put to confusion” by God’s hand of governmental judgment. They can speak in mournful terms of their defeat before their adversaries, their spoiling by those who hate them, their being sold for nothing, their being a reproach and a mockery to those around them, etc. The reproach is especially painful when coming from the heathen nations looking on. Their confusion and shame is overwhelming.
17 All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely against thy covenant:
18 Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy path;
19 Though thou hast crushed us in the place of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God, and stretched out our hands to a strange GOD,
21 Would not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
22 “But for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are reckoned as sheep for slaughter.” [quoted Romans 8:36]
vv.17-22 The Remnant’s Faithfulness to God. In spite of all that has come upon the remnant, they have remained faithful to God. They have kept the covenant, although imperfectly. They have not turned away from God as the apostate nation did. Although they were severely crushed by God, they had not turned away from God. They have not turned to the idols either. In fact, the cause of their persecution is that they belong to God; “for thy sake are we killed all the day long”. Note that Paul quotes this verse in Romans 8:36, in giving examples of the things that may come into the life of a believer that cannot separate us from the love of Christ.
23 Awake, why sleepest thou, Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
26 Rise up for our help, and redeem us for thy loving-kindness’ sake.
vv.23-26 Call for God to Arise for Israel’s Help. Finally, the remnant calls on God to awake as one out of sleep, to arise and deliver them. Compare v.23 with Romans 11:1. The faithful speak of their soul as “bowed down to the dust” and ask the Lord to “rise up” and “redeem” them. They do not plead now their own faithfulness, but “for thy loving-kindness’ sake”.