Intro: Psalm 44 is a tough psalm because it asks God why he has seemingly deserted his people even though they have done nothing wrong.
To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.
1 O God, we have heard with our ears,
our fathers have told us,
what deeds you performed in their days,
in the days of old:
2 you with your own hand drove out the nations,
but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples,
but them you set free;
3 for not by their own sword did they win the land,
nor did their own arm save them,
but your right hand and your arm,
and the light of your face,
for you delighted in them.
4 You are my King, O God;
ordain salvation for Jacob!
5 Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
6 For not in my bow do I trust,
nor can my sword save me.
7 But you have saved us from our foes
and have put to shame those who hate us.
8 In God we have boasted continually,
and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah
9 But you have rejected us and disgraced us
and have not gone out with our armies.
10 You have made us turn back from the foe,
and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
11 You have made us like sheep for slaughter
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You have sold your people for a trifle,
demanding no high price for them.
13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughingstock among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
17 All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
19 yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
23 Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24 Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26 Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!
Main Point: Psalm 44 is a psalm poignant with deep emotion. It is the cry of a servant who has done what the Lord has required and yet is still facing oppression by his enemy. It’s a cry that shocks us, and seems like the situation should never be. But it is a cry that is common among the followers of the Lord. It is a cry to arouse the Lord to action.
The structure is pretty straight forward. The psalmist starts by reciting all the things that the Lord has done for the nation of Israel(1-3). He then moves from what the Lord has done in the past to telling of his dependence on the Lord (4-8). The psalmist dependence on the Lord makes his situation even more pressing. He describes in detail the oppression that they are facing in verses 9-16, and the way that the Lord has deserted them. In verses 17-22 the psalmist brings the faithfulness of the nation before the Lord. He emphasizes that they have held true to the covenant. And in the remaining verses he makes his plea to the Lord for action.
The message is simple. The Lord’s chosen people, who have been faithful to him, have seemingly been rejected by Him. They cry to him for Action. It teaches us that when we enter moments like this in our lives we should run to the Lord, not away. In the desperate moments of our lives we must not be afraid to cry out to the Lord, and remind him of our utter dependence on him. We must not be afraid to boldly ask for him to act on our behalf, and remain true to his promises and his followers.
Interesting Points: This psalm is a tough one for me personally. Why? It reminds me of the story of Job. It describes a situation in which God’s people have been faithful to him, and yet they are being oppressed by their enemies. Job in particular lost everything that he had, family and all. He then had to suffer while his friends accused him of sin, even though that had nothing to do with his suffering. At least with Job we see a resolution and blessing after Job’s suffering. We don’t have that here.
But the more I ponder this psalm, there more I think this is normal in the life of the Lord’s saints. Look at the prophets. Look at the Disciples. Look at David, Abraham, and Moses. These were all men chosen by God to do great things for His kingdom, but yet they all suffered at times like this.
If that doesn’t convince you then you have to look at the life of Jesus. One could not have been more faithful to the Law than He was. Yet, look at His life. He faced opposition every where He went. Ultimately, his faithfulness meant having to suffer separation from the Lord so that we weren’t separated from the Lord.
It reminds me that even Jesus told us that we must take up our cross and follow him. And that to be worthy of him, we must be willing to give up everything. A life of suffering is the way of the people of God.
Verses 9-16 are probably the toughest of the psalm to me. Notice that the Psalmist doesn’t say, “Lord, you allowed this to happen.” The psalmist is very aggressive in positing action by the Lord to make this come about. So what gives? See my answer above. It is one of the ways that the Lord ordains for his people to grow, and to cling to him. James 1 is a great example of this.
I suspect that for many of us that isn’t a very satisfying answer. We would like for the Lord to make a 1:1 correlation between our faithfulness and his blessings (or at least for him to forgive our sins and then just bless us when we do really good). But He doesn’t do that. We would also love to find a way out that makes it easy to pretend that the Lord isn’t active in the painful events in our lives. But that’s a lie. His hand is in everything both good and bad.
We want Romans 8:28 but forget about Romans 8:17. We do have a great reward coming, but suffering and growth will not end in this life.