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Speaking for the nation, the psalmist related the account of God giving the Promised Land to His people in Joshua’s days that the forefathers had told. He stressed that God had given Canaan to them by defeating their enemies. The Israelites did not win it by their own strength. Next to the Exodus, the most frequently mentioned period of Israel’s history in the Psalms is the conquest of the land. [Note: Bullock, p. 112.]
1. The reason for Israel’s present trust in the Lord 44:1-8
The psalmist recalled God’s past faithfulness to Israel’s forefathers and affirmed the nation’s present confidence in the Lord.
The writer spoke for the nation of Israel in this psalm. He lamented a national disaster, namely, defeat by enemies, and he called on the Lord to deliver. Evidently he could not identify sin in the nation as the cause of this defeat. He attributed it instead to it being "for Your sake" (Psalms 44:22). Israel was apparently suffering because she had remained loyal to God in a world hostile to Him. The basis of the psalmist’s request was God’s faithfulness to the patriarchs and the people’s present trust in Him. [Note: On the meaning of Maskil in the title, see my note on Psalms 32.]
"Perhaps the Psalter’s boldest appeal to God’s faithfulness is found in Psalms 44, a communal lament psalm offered to God during an unidentified national catastrophe." [Note: Chisholm, "A Theology . . .," p. 300. ]
Other communal or community lament psalms are 60, 74, 77, 79-80, 83, 85, 90, 94, 123, 126, and 137.
"Perhaps this psalm was used at a national ’day of prayer’ with a worship leader speaking the ’I/my’ verses and the people the ’we/our’ verses." [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 177.]
Israel needed God’s help again in her present conflicts with enemy nations. On the basis of parallels between this psalm and Psalms 60, Wiersbe suggested that the enemies in view may have been the Edomites and the Arameans (cf. Psalms 44:3 and Psalms 60:5; Psalms 44:5 and Psalms 60:12; Psalms 44:9; Psalms 44:23 and Psalms 60:1; Psalms 60:10). [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p. 177.] The writer led the nation in looking to Yahweh as her King and military commander (cf. Joshua 5:13-15). He not only affirmed his confidence in God but also renounced reliance on military armaments. He intended his statement that the nation had boasted in the Lord and would thank Him forever (Psalms 44:8) to move God to save His people again.
"Only when the Israelites had put aside their confidence in weaponry and bravery could they become instruments in the hands of God." [Note: VanGemeren, p. 339.]
God had allowed His people to suffer defeat recently for some reason. The nation had retreated and the enemy had taken spoils.
2. Israel’s present defeated condition 44:9-16
These verses describe the defeat figuratively. God had not protected His sheep but had allowed their enemy to ravage them. He had sold them to the enemy but had not profited from the bargain personally.
Israel’s defeat had made her an object of ridicule among her neighbor nations. They laughed at God’s people because the Lord had not defended them.
The psalmist’s heart broke because Israel suffered such humiliation. He suffered because God’s reputation suffered too.
Even though the Lord had abandoned His people temporarily, the psalmist claimed that the nation continued to trust and obey Him. They had continued to remember Him, and they had not forsaken allegiance to the Mosaic Covenant. They had done so in the face of their disastrous defeat.
3. The nation’s continuing trust in the Lord 44:17-22
Their defeat and humiliation were not the consequences of apostasy. They suffered innocently for some unknown reason. It seemed as though God allowed Israel’s enemy to slaughter some of His sheep for purposes known only to Him.
The Apostle Paul quoted Psalms 44:22 in Romans 8:36 as proof that even though God’s people suffer, God does not forsake them.
4. A prayer requesting divine intervention 44:23-26
The psalmist cried out to God to act for His people. He pictured God as asleep and in need of arousing (cf. Mark 4:38). Yahweh could not be angry because His people had not sinned by turning to another god (Psalms 44:18; Psalms 44:20). Israel had come to the end of her rope and was almost dead. Since Yahweh had pledged to protect His people, the writer concluded with an appeal to His loyal love.
Sometimes believers suffer through no apparent fault of their own. In such situations we should maintain our trust and obedience, and we should call on God to deliver us as He has promised to do. Even if He allows us to perish in this life, we should still remain faithful to Him (cf. Job 13:15).
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 44". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent