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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 44

Verses 1-3

Introduction

In Psalms 42-43, the faithful remnant is outside the land and is in great distress there. Their greatest distress is that they cannot go to God in His sanctuary. Psalm 44 further describes that distress. Psalm 42 and Psalm 43 are an individual lamentation. Psalm 44 is a lamentation of the people. Although the people trust in the LORD, they are still in great distress because of what the nations are doing to them.

A division of the psalm:
1. First they remind God of the past, of what they themselves have heard about the occupation of the land (Psalms 44:1-Leviticus :).
2. They confess God as their God and express their trust in Him (Psalms 44:4-Ruth :).
3. Then they speak of their current situation: they are terribly persecuted (Psalms 44:10-Esther :).
4. Then they confess their faithfulness (Psalms 44:17-Song of Solomon :).
5. They conclude the psalm with a cry to God to rise up and be their help (Psalms 44:23-Ezekiel :).

The content of the psalm can also be divided with a few key words:
1. Trust: because of God’s actions in the past (Psalms 44:1-Ruth :).
2. Dejection: because of the defeat by enemies. The slaughter in the land by the king of the north, although the remnant itself escapes the slaughter because they have taken refuge abroad (Psalms 44:9-Nehemiah :).
3. Confusion: how faith trust and hardship can go together (Psalms 44:17-Song of Solomon :).
4. Request: whether God will grant salvation after all (Psalms 44:23-Ezekiel :).

Remembrance of the Past

For “for the choir director”(Psalms 44:1) see at Psalm 4:1.

For “a Maskil” see at Psalm 32:1.

For “of the sons of Korah” see at Psalm 42:1.

At this point they are speaking to God (Psalms 44:1) and not to the LORD, the God of the covenant. This is true of most of the second book of psalms (see the Introduction to Psalm 42). They are removed from the sanctuary and therefore feel removed from the covenant. They think of the work and wonders of God in overcoming mighty enemies and the promised land they have been given. This is what their fathers told them about (cf. Judges 6:13). God has repeatedly commanded that His great deeds be told by the fathers to their children (Exodus 10:2; Exodus 13:14; Deuteronomy 4:9; cf. Exodus 12:26-Daniel :).

For us as members of God’s New Testament people, the church, His great act is the redemption of our sins. He accomplished this by sending His Son, who accomplished redemption through His work on the cross. The Son suffered, died and rose again and is now glorified with God in heaven. We may tell about this to our children.

When we read “in their days” and “the days of old” we can think of the deliverance from Egypt, but here especially of the taking possession of the land. God did a great “work … in their days” by helping them drive out the nations of the land and giving it to them. They lived there and enjoyed the blessing. Now this work seems to become undone, for they have been driven out of the land.

God “drove out the nations” with His hand (Psalms 44:2; Deuteronomy 7:1). In their place He “planted” His people (cf. Exodus 15:17; Psalms 80:9; Amos 9:15). Nothing is said here about the unbelief of the people. The faithful only want to speak about what God has done and thereby remind Him of His earlier dealings with His people. He “drove out” the nations who were then in the land, because the measure of their iniquity was complete (Genesis 15:16). His own people He has showered with blessing and “planted them” (cf. Psalms 80:11).

They are aware that it was not in their own strength and by their own means that they drove the enemies out of the land (Psalms 44:3). It is all due solely to God’s power (Deuteronomy 8:17-Job :; Deuteronomy 9:3-Joshua :). They speak of “Your right hand and Your arm”. It is a double display of power, for both speak of God’s power. On top of that, the light of God’s presence was present with them and guided them. It means that He “favored them”. This is evident from the fact that He chose them to be His own people.

Verses 4-8

Boasting in God

Although the psalm is a collective lamentation, we find several times that the psalmist nevertheless speaks in the singular (Psalms 44:4; Psalms 44:6Psalms 44:15). They acknowledge no other King but God (Psalms 44:4; cf. Psalms 5:2). By contemplating the deeds of God in the past, the faith of the remnant has been strengthened. As a result, they now dare to declare individually that not the antichrist, but the LORD God is their King: “You [with emphasis] are my King, O God.”

From Him, the God, the Angel Who redeemed Jacob from all evil (Genesis 48:16), they expect the complete deliverance of Jacob from Jacob’s distress. Therefore, they ask Him to “command victories for Jacob”. He will certainly do that in His time. Then, to their amazement, they will see that God, their King, is none other than the Messiah, the Lord Jesus.

Earlier they spoke of God using His right hand and His arm to deliver them. Now they speak of themselves in God’s power striking down their adversaries (Psalms 44:5; cf. Deuteronomy 33:17). It is both true. Those who rise up against them to do them harm, they shall trample down in His Name (cf. Romans 16:20; Malachi 4:3). God will give His people the strength to defeat their adversaries (cf. Zechariah 12:5-Joshua :). They do not rely on their bow to take out the enemy at a distance, nor do they rely on their sword to deliver themselves from the enemy nearby (Psalms 44:6). They realize that there is no strength in them.

There is no reliance on their own strength, but on God (Psalms 44:7). In faith they count on Him to deliver them from their adversaries. He causes their haters to be put to shame by making all their cunning plans fail completely. Christ will totally break the works of the devil and deliver His people.

When the gaze is thus fixed on God, the result is that the believing remnant boasts in Him “all day long” (Psalms 44:8). This boasting will culminate in the giving thanks to His Name “forever”. The praise of His Name will continue indefinitely.

Verses 9-16

Complaint of the Rejected People

In Psalms 44:9, the tone of the psalm changes. This change is introduced with the word “yet”. “Yet” implies: despite the daily thanksgiving in Psalms 44:7 in response that God was kind to them. Embedded in this is the question, how the God of the fathers can now reject their children (cf. Psalms 89:38).

The faithful – who identify with the rest of the people, as, for example, Daniel does (Daniel 9:5) – look at the circumstances in which they now find themselves. They then note that the God Whom they praise and glorify has “rejected [us] and brought us to dishonor”. That He has rejected them, they describe in Psalms 44:10-2 Kings :; that He has put them to shame, they describe in Psalms 44:13-Nehemiah :.

The enemy has come, but God did not go with the armies of Israel. As a result, they have turned back from the adversary (Psalms 44:10). God has given the enemy the upper hand over them, and now they are being plundered by those who hate them to benefit from it.

They complain to God that He gives them to their enemies “as sheep to be eaten” (Psalms 44:11; cf. Zechariah 11:4; Zechariah 11:7). This “eaten” is done by the enemies of God’s people. The remnant has fled from the enemy, but nowhere are they safe. They experience what they as a nation did to their Messiah at the time. Their Messiah was sold by the people for little money (Zechariah 11:12-1 Chronicles :; Matthew 26:15; Matthew 27:9). Now they themselves are sold for little money (Psalms 44:12; cf. Deuteronomy 32:30; Judges 2:14; Isaiah 52:3). They despised Him and now they themselves are despised.

They are reaping the fruits of their rejection of their Messiah. What they are experiencing, the Lord Jesus, their Messiah, also experienced during His days on earth. They are reaping what they have sown. God makes them a reproach to their “neighbors” (Psalms 44:13), which are primarily their neighboring nations of Edom, Ammon and Moab.

“The nations” – where we can think of the nations among whom they are scattered, a wider circle therefore than the “neighbors” in the previous line – make them a byword (Psalms 44:14; Deuteronomy 28:37; Jeremiah 24:9). They are a laughingstock to nations. The remnant sees in the actions of the nations and the nations the actions of God. Time and again they speak of “You”, “You”, …. He works this mocking behavior. They don’t sue God over this, but acknowledge that they deserve it.

In Psalms 44:15, the king is speaking – he is the “Me” in this verse. Literally he says: the shame of my countenance covers me. This goes further than the NASB translation: my humiliation has overwhelmed me. In fact, it says: shame has totally surrounded and covered me. This happens all day long. This is a great contrast to “all day long” boasting in God (Psalms 44:8). The cause of this is the voice of those who “reproaches and reviles, because of the enemy and the avenger” (Psalms 44:16). In this we recognize the antichrist, who has a big mouth and speaks blasphemies (Revelation 13:5-Joshua :; Revelation 13:11).

Verses 17-22

Confession of Faithfulness

The remnant utters that even though “all this” has happened to them, they still have not forgotten God and have not dealt falsely with His covenant (Psalms 44:17). The severe trials do not result in them ceasing to think about Him. On the contrary, they focus all the more on Him because they know that He alone can give salvation. That is trusting in faith.

Their heart has not turned back to adhere to other gods (Psalms 44:18), but have remained faithful to God. Nor have their steps deviated from the way God wants them to go. Their walk and behavior are in accordance with His will. The severe trials do not result in them ceasing to serve God. They are keeping His commandments.

God has disciplined them so severely through the trials that they feel in the midst of their enemies as if they were “in a place of jackals” or a desolate place (Psalms 44:19; cf. Jeremiah 9:11; Jeremiah 10:22). There they are crushed by Him. What a contrast with their “homeland”, the land flowing with milk and honey. While they would expect God to shelter them in the foreign land, they find that God “covered” them “with the shadow of death”.

If it were indeed the case that they had forgotten the Name of their God and had extended their hands to a strange god to ask for help from them (Psalms 44:20), God would certainly find that out and discover that (Psalms 44:21). “For He knows the secrets of the heart” (cf. Jeremiah 17:9-2 Samuel :). To forget the Name of God means that they do not call upon Him, but they do nothing else than calling upon His Name continually. Still less have they forgotten His Name by calling on a strange god, for they address Him exclusively.

They are constantly attacked by their enemies. The fact that they speak in the ‘we’ form indicates that they are united with each other as the people of God in this situation. They tell God that for His sake they “are killed all day long” (Psalms 44:22; cf. Psalms 44:8; Psalms 44:15). Surely this proves that they have not forgotten Him. Their enemies see them as “sheep to be slaughtered” precisely because of their faithfulness to God. But if the people are not unfaithful to the covenant, then it seems that God is unfaithful to His covenant. How can that be! The psalmist is now confused. This leads to the prayer in Psalms 44:23-Ezekiel :.

Paul quotes this verse to show the believers in Rome – and us as well – the close connection that exists between believers and Christ (Romans 8:35-Zephaniah :; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:31; 2 Corinthians 1:8-2 Samuel :; 2 Corinthians 11:23). Believers undergo trial and tribulation because of their connection to the Lord Jesus. They suffer what He suffered. In the world they suffer tribulation. “But” says the Lord to them, “take courage, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Verses 23-26

Cry for Help

They do not believe that God sleeps (cf. Psalms 121:4; 1 Kings 18:27). They express themselves in this way because sleep is a human representation of the absence of any activity. They perceive that God is keeping Himself dormant because He does not act and intervene on their behalf (Psalms 44:23). They cry out here to the “Lord”, Adonai, the sovereign Ruler. The remnant is afraid that He will “reject” them “forever”, that is, for all eternity.

The disciples of the Lord Jesus have a similar experience to the sons of Korah. When a storm overtakes them in the ship with the Lord, Who is both Man and God, they wake Him up, for He is asleep. They awaken Him asking if He does not care that they perish (Mark 4:35-:).

God hides Himself from the believing remnant (Psalms 44:24). Because their affliction and tribulation last so long, it seems as if He forgets them. It seems as if the antichrist and the ungodly multitude can have their way and kill them at their will (cf. Daniel 7:25; Revelation 13:7). But God cannot forget them. They are “inscribed … on the palms” of His hands (Isaiah 49:16) and are written “in a book of remembrance” before Him” (Malachi 3:16). They are in the melting pot of purification, where He heats the fire just as hot as it takes to make them a pure silver (Malachi 3:2-Leviticus :).

They feel like the dead, which they indicate by saying that their souls have sunk down into the dust (Psalms 44:25; cf. Psalms 22:15). Their bodies cleaves to the earth, they say. By this they compare themselves to reptiles who cannot lift themselves up. It indicates the great humiliation and tribulation they suffer.

God is the help of His people (Hosea 13:9). Therefore, they call upon Him to rise up and to be their help (Psalms 44:26). He is their help in trouble (Psalms 46:1) and in this they find themselves. He is the Only One Who can help. There is no one else. They appeal to His “lovingkindness” to deliver them and not to any righteousness or faithfulness on their part or their suffering for Him. How God answers their prayer is the subject of the next four psalms (Psalms 45-48).

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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 44". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-44.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.