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The church, in memory of former favours, complaineth of her present evils: professing her integrity, she fervently prayeth for succour.
To the chief musician, for the sons of Korah, Maschil.
Title. משׂכיל קרח לבני למנצח lamnatseach libnei korach maskiil.— This Psalm appears to have been composed at a time when the Jewish people suffered greatly from their enemies, and many were carried into captivity; though the state itself subsisted, and the public worship of God was maintained. The author, by the singular number which occurs every now and then, must have been of eminence; it could not sound well out of any mouth but that of the prince himself; therefore either the prince, or some one about his person, must have been the writer; not unlikely, as Bishop Patrick thinks, Hezekiah; and perhaps from Psa 44:15-16 it was written soon after the blasphemous message of Rabshakeh. Mudge.
Psalms 44:2. How thou didst afflict, &c.— How thou didst enfeeble the nations, and spread them;—our fathers, Psalms 44:1. That is, madest them shoot forth their roots and branches, which they were enabled to do by enfeebling their enemies, as they were first planted in the place from whence they were removed. See Mudge and Houbigant.
Psalms 44:3. The light of thy countenance— This expression here seems to signify the special, the majestic presence of God, visibly presiding over the army of the Israelites, by a light shining cloud going before them and conducting them; so that the words here will be best rendered by the light of thy presence, and not by the light of thy countenance; which is the same with God's favour, the mention whereof follows in the next words, as the ground or reason of this his shining presence, and not as the thing itself.
Psalms 44:4. Thou art my king, O God— Thou——the same, art my king, O God: command victories for Jacob. As he was the same God who was still their king, it was equally in his power now to give them success, which they would take care never to attribute to their own strength, but to the blessing of God upon them. Mudge.
Psalms 44:9. But— ףּא ap: The force of the particle seems to be this: "Instead of giving us victory, thou hast even cast us off."
Psalms 44:12. Thou sellest thy people for nought— "Sufferest them to be sold for slaves at a very inconsiderable price." This expression implies the low esteem in which they were with the Deity. The next expression, according to Dr. Hammond, means, "We are thus sadly handled, without the comfort of bringing in any honour to thee by our calamities; since thy church among us is defaced, and no other people taken instead of us, by whom thy name may be glorified."
Psalms 44:19. Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons— Though thou hast crushed us down into the place of serpents; i.e. under the earth, expressed afterwards by the shadow of death. It is explained by the 25th verse, where there is the same image of serpents. The Psalmist designs to express a hopeless and forlorn condition, as in Psalms 44:22. See Isaiah 34:13; Isaiah 35:7.
Psalms 44:22. Yea, for thy sake are we killed— i.e. As professing thy religion, and not willing to have any inter-community with the false gods of the heathen; for it is well known, that the Jews were exposed to a variety of evils from their conquerors, on account of their strict adherence to the Mosaic law. Houbigant observes, that as this and the like passages in this Psalm may be applied primarily to the captive and persecuted Jews, so do they, in a secondary sense, refer to suffering Christians, and their persecutions from heathen and unbelieving adversaries; and accordingly St. Paul so accommodates the present verse, Romans 8:36.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The church of God is the same in all ages, saved by the same blood, strengthened by the same grace, opposed by the same enemies, and expecting the same deliverances. Here we behold her prostrate under the feet of her enemies, but calling to mind former days, and hoping still in God.
1. In their distress the people of God look back to their fathers' mercies; the wonders that God had wrought of old, casting out the Canaanites before them, and giving them their land for an inheritance; and this not by any prowess or might of their own, but by such repeated miracles as convinced them of the hand from whence all their victories came, and of the great good-will of God therein manifested towards them. Note; Not by human power, but divine, was the glorious gospel of Jesus made at first triumphant over the powers of darkness and heathenism: and he who once made bare his arm to plant, will not fail to preserve it; and every anti-christian foe, however tyrannous and persecuting, shall fall at last before it.
2. They profess their confidence in God for present salvation, and join their prayers that he would complete it in his time. God is their king, therefore he will protect his faithful subjects: renouncing all human confidences, they rest their cause with him, to tread down their enemies, and cover them with shame; knowing that it is but for him to speak, and the work is done: Command deliverances for Jacob; deliverances of all kinds, spiritual, temporal, eternal, from men, devils, sin, and death. Note; (1.) While we pray for ourselves as individuals, the church of Christ, and especially the persecuted members of it, should ever be remembered by us. (2.) They who would prevail against their spiritual enemies, must first renounce themselves, that God may be glorified. When I am weak, then am I strong.
3. They boast themselves in God, not in themselves, unless they glory in their infirmities, that the power and grace of God may more abundantly appear: God is their glory and praise. Note; The work of eternity will be everlasting praise; when with unutterable transport the golden crowns of the faithful redeemed shall be cast at the Redeemer's feet, and all their great salvation ascribed to his power, grace, and love.
2nd, We have the deep complaints of the persecuted church of God: to the eye of sense they seemed cast off, disowned, and dishonoured. Note; (1.) Reproach and sufferings are more or less our appointed cross; let us not shrink under them. (2.) Though we may foolishly wonder why God permits his foes and ours to trample on his people, we shall know hereafter, and admire the dispensation. (3.) The dishonour cast upon God, is a greater grief to the spirit of the Christian than the injury done himself.
3rdly, "Lord, to whom shall we go," may the church and every suffering member well say, "but unto thee?" for there is salvation in no other: hither therefore they fly, and,
1. Plead their own steady adherence to God's pure word and worship, amidst all the evils that they endured for the sake of them; and for this they appealed to the heart-searching God: they neither could be compelled to worship the gods of the heathen, nor the strange idol images of antichristian invention; no, not though fire and rack were the instruments of their torture, and dark prisons, inquisitorial dungeons, and every hellish device, had been used to shake their constancy: they loved not their lives unto death, and rather chose to be butchered all the day long, than comply with these abominations; their heart cleaved to Christ and his truth, and therefore faithfully endured his cross, and continued steadfast in his covenant. Note; (1.) Though we are not called to the sufferings of martyrs, we shall have that cross which nothing but Almighty grace can enable us to endure. (2.) They who, to shun troubles, comply with sin, only exchange the sufferings of time for the torments of eternity. (3.) When we have to deal with a heart-searching God, we may well tremble at the thought of insincerity.
2. They present their supplications for help and deliverance; and, with moving representations and expostulations, urge their suit. Awake; not that God sleeps; but, like one regardless of them, he seemed to have forsaken them; but they plead, let it not be for ever; wherefore hidest thou thy face? as though disregarding their affliction, when their souls were sunk in despondence, and their bodies made as the dung of the earth under the feet of their insulting foes. Arise; they repeat the cry, their distress made them importunate; redeem us for thy mercy's sake; not because we have any desert to plead, but because of thy rich mercy in Christ, wherein thou hast caused us to put our trust. Note; (1.) If God seems to disregard our danger, as Jesus in the storm slept, it is only to awaken our importunity, and to magnify the more his mercy in our deliverance. (2.) The greatest saints of God have the lowest opinion of themselves: they, who could appeal to God for their simplicity, go forth with no other plea than his mercy.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 44". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34