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FRAMEWORKS: Psalm 44: I thought we were all right!


For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil.


[Preliminary Comments: A strange psalm that recognises that God had made Israel what they are [v.2,3] and had blessed them over their enemies [v.4-8]. But now all that seems to have changed so they are as nothing before their enemies [v.9-14]. Thus the psalmist feels only shame [v.15,16]. He denies they have failed the Lord [v.17-22] so wonders why they are like they are and simply cries for the Lord's help [v.23-26]. In the light of Israel's history it is a daring psalm! See end notes.]



PART 1: v.1-8: God's triumphs for Israel


v.1 God's activities on Israel's behalf in the past are well known


v.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.

v.2,3 It was His power that gave them the Promised Land


v.2  With your hand you drove out the nations
    and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
    and made our ancestors flourish.
v.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.


v.4-8 Testimony & Witness to what God has done


v.4  You are my King and my God,
    who decrees victories for Jacob.
v.5  Through you we push back our enemies;
    through your name we trample our foes.
v.6  I put no trust in my bow,
    my sword does not bring me victory;
v.7  but you give us victory over our enemies,
    you put our adversaries to shame.
v.8  In God we make our boast all day long,
    and we will praise your name forever.



Part 2: v.9-22: The Disgrace of Israel


v.9-14 All the things the Lord has now done


v.9  But now you have rejected and humbled us;
    you no longer go out with our armies.
v.10  You made us retreat before the enemy,
    and our adversaries have plundered us.
v.11  You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
    and have scattered us among the nations.
v.12  You sold your people for a pittance,
    gaining nothing from their sale.

v.13  You have made us a reproach to our neighbors
    the scorn and derision of those around us.
v.14  You have made us a byword among the nations;
    the peoples shake their heads at us.

v.15,16 The outworkings of this in the present


v.15  I live in disgrace all day long,
    and my face is covered with shame
v.16  at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
    because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.


v.17,18 What has happened to the Covenant between us?


v.17  All this came upon us,
    though we had not forgotten you;
    we had not been false to your covenant.
v.18  Our hearts had not turned back;
    our feet had not strayed from your path.

v.19-22 So why has all this happened to us?


v.19  But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
    you covered us over with deep darkness.

v.20  If we had forgotten the name of our God
    or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
v.21  would not God have discovered it,
    since he knows the secrets of the heart?
v.22  Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.



PART 3: v.23-26: Cries for Help


v.23,24 A simple cry for help


v.23   Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
     Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
v.24  Why do you hide your face
    and forget our misery and oppression?


v.25,26 That cry extended from being down in the dust


v.25  We are brought down to the dust;
    our bodies cling to the ground.
v.26  Rise up and help us;
    rescue us because of your unfailing love.



[Additional Thoughts: This psalm is perhaps reflected in the earlier words of Gideon: “ if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our ancestors told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and given us into the hand of Midian.” (Jud 6:13) One wonders if, when this psalm was sung, it would hit the consciences of the singers and bring conviction of why they were here in this state – perhaps the same reason as given to Israel in Gideon's day – see Judg 6:10]



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