Read Psalm 44
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil.
1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
2 With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.
4 You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
6 I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
7 but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.
9 But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.
13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
15 I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
17 All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
18 Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.
At first glance, this can be a rather surprising chapter. The author is basically telling God what He should do! He does this all the while maintaining his own personal innocence (very similar to parts of the book of Job). It feels like the roles are reversed from what they should be. One would think that the author should be humble enough to admit his own faults, and then ask the Lord for direction on what to do next, right? This is not the formula for which this chapter plays out.
When you dig deeper into this passage, however, this psalm is not necessarily declaring that God is in the wrong. Instead this is an example of the author trying to remind himself that God is always in the right! In the middle of frustration, the author begins by reminding himself that God was faithful in the past. Then the very last word of this chapter is a declaration of God’s unfailing love. It’s like the author is saying “God I know your character. You are a faithful Father who loves His children. Because of what I know about you, I’m confused about my situation. Why are you letting your children suffer when I know you don’t want them to?”
This type of honesty is crucial in our walk with God. If we aren’t willing to be fully authentic with Him, our relationship won’t have the depth it needs. This type of theological struggle described in the passage is exactly the type of “work out” our faith sometimes requires. This psalm is a reminder of the story in Genesis when Jacob wrestled with God (Genesis 32). Sometimes our faith calls for a bit of wrestling. There will no doubt be times when we need to fight to see the faithfulness of God. We will have dark seasons in which we will need to remind ourselves that God is always bringing us closer to His light. So when you don’t like your situation, start telling God about His character. When you do, you’ll be reminded of who He is and what He has promised to do for you.
- What surprised you about how the author wrote in this chapter?
- Do you think following God will always lead to your success?
- The author starts this chapter by reminding himself of God’s previous acts of faithfulness. How has God been faithful to you in the past?
By the Way
Psalm 44:22 is referenced in one of the most well known chapters in the Bible. Here is what Paul wrote:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”