Daily in the Psalms : Psalm 44
OUR ASSURANCE IN GOD
We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them. Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob. Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us. In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah. Psalms 44:1-8
One of the things that gives us assurance is remembering God’s works in the past. “How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them;” The Canaanites were driven from their land by the great hand of God and God’s chosen people were planted in their place. “Thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.” While blessing His own people, the Lord brought great affliction upon their enemies. The words, “cast them out” is a reference to God’s people, not the Canaanites. He scattered His people throughout the land. “What work thou didst in their days.” They did not get the land and establish their nation by their own might or by their own courage. “But thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance.” It was God that favored them and fought for them. How true this is for the Christian, the enemies of our soul are never afraid of us or our own strength. God alone is able to quicken us and enable us to prosper against our foes. “Because thou hadst a favour unto them.” Anyone who reads the Scripture knows that the Israelites did not merit the works that God did for them. In fact it is difficult to find anything about them that would merit God’s favor. They owe everything to Him. God’s work of salvation in you and I is entirely due to His own free, unmerited, sovereign favor. Careful examination of ourselves will reveal that it is impossible to find anything about us that world merit His favor. Thank God we are saved by grace alone! “We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us.” Generation after generation had heard the thrilling accounts of all that God has done for the people of God.
The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. Isaiah 38:19
Because of the goodness of God, each generation ought to be wiser and more grateful for what God has done. They ought to trust and praise Him more. They should know more about the profit of righteousness and the evils of sin. They should serve God more faithfully and obey Him more diligently and be assured of His continued blessing and grace.
OUR CONFIDENCE IN GOD
They had faith that what God had done for their fathers He would do for them. Because of what He had done, their faith in what He would do grew. They had faith that their God was unchangeable and faithful. He had done glorious things for their fathers and He would do the same for them. May God’s great work in the past cause our confidence in Him to grow.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Philippians 1:6
“Thou art my King, O God:” They had submitted to God as their King and were now pledging their allegiance to Him and placing themselves under His protection. The King of their fathers that had demonstrated His power on their behalf, would do the same for them. “Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.” They spoke of “Deliverances, not just one, but as many as were needed. God was their King and they were dependant upon His authority and power. All He had to do was speak and their deliverance would be completely accomplished. May we honor the Lord with our faith in His power to save. “I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.” They had already announced that it was by God’s power alone that they were blessed, now they were declaring that they were abandoning all confidence except that which was connected to God. The faith of the Christian must be fixed on Christ alone for our pardon, power, purity, victory, and glory. He is our Only, All-sufficient Saviour! “Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.” They were expecting a victory over their foes that would completely vanquish them and leave them powerless. They were expecting their enemies to be put to shame. Every Christian can expect victory through Christ. He promised that we are more than conquerors through Him. “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.” They praised Him as their God and King; the One in whom the confidently trusted. They resolved to praise Him continually (All the day long) and perpetually (For ever). Their confidence in God that arose out of the recollection and celebration of His past works is a great example to us today. They were in a dark hour, but they expressed their confidence in God. Every Christian ought to pass through this life performing our duties, bearing our burdens, fighting our battles, and singing praises to His Name.
The God of Heaven is the One we adore
But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies. Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves. Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen. Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price. Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us. Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people. My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger. Psalms 44:9-16
Suddenly the tone of this Psalm changes from great confidence in God to a sad complaint of being forsaken by Him. Up until now there was praise for what God had done and what He would do in the future. Now there is the complaint about what He is doing at the present.
“Thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.” Knowing what was written in the previous verses, there is no way that we could believe that the Psalmist believed he was utterly forsaken by God. His words indicate that it was the feeling of his soul. They had been accustomed to the presence of God and now that presence was not clearly evident. Before they had gone into war with the confidence of God’s presence and returned in victory. Now they go forth without that confidence and return in defeat and shame. “Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves. Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen.” They had lost their courage. They no longer fought like brave men. They were like sheep given to the slaughter. Their enemies thought nothing of killing them. As a result they were scattered among the heathen. “Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours.” Those around them treated them with contempt, as a people forsaken by their God. “My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me.” The people were slandered, God was blasphemed, and their enemies were having their way with them. Their shame was great and there seemed to be no relief.
In verse 9 they declare that it is God that has cast them off. They understand that their suffering and shame is God’s doing. How can we reconcile this statement with the fact that we know God is good all the time? To say that He has forsaken His people is unthinkable and really impossible. The only thing we can assume here is that there must have been a forsaking of God among these people because God never forsakes His people unless they first forsake Him. This being the case, their enemies were nothing more than instruments of God’s judgment. The only way they could have power over God’s people is for God to allow it. In judgment God withdraws the light of His presence and the shield of His protection. In faithfulness and love God always chastises sin.
If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Psalms 89:30-32
Again, in love and faithfulness God desires to perfect our character by holding us accountable. That accountability will humble us and cause us to seek His forgiveness and mercy. It is always good for God’s people to draw near to Him. It relieves the troubled heart and shrinks the gap between Him and us. He is our only hope for restored strength and joy.
OUR APPEAL TO GOD
All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant. Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way; Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart. Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth. Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake. Psalms 44:17-26
In appealing to God there are some important statements made here:
They Had Not Broken His Covenant “Yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.” He was not claiming perfection; he was simply stating that their testimony was not one of dealing falsely with God. They had not forgotten Him. They Had Not Turned To Idolatry “If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god.” They had not turned back to the ways of the heathen in worshipping false and strange gods. The phrase, “Stretching out our hands’ indicates worship. They had not forsaken the God of their fathers. They Had Not Backslidden “Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way.” Their hearts had not departed from God. Their love was still toward Him and they had followed the path He had prescribed for them. They Were Trusting That He Knows All “Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” If they had departed from God He would have known it. Their Separation From Him Was Causing Them Misery And Suffering “Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” Their suffering was for the sake of God. They could not understand why they were suffering when they had not departed from God or gone contrary to His ways. As Christians, we cannot make any claim of perfection, but we can have a testimony of overall faithfulness and obedience. God knows that we are but flesh and He does not expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to be different. That difference should be enough for us to expect His continued presence.
We Can Make An Earnest Request. “Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.” They did not believe it was possible for God to sleep and not be aware of their plight. They word “Why” was not an accusation, but a denial that they would even think such a thing. “Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?” This is also as statement that it could not be possible. If it were impossible, their question was, “How can it be so?” They we crying out for God’s immediate help. They felt like they had been forsaken, and they were crying out for God’s attention. If God would forsake them, they would have no hope. “For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.” This is an indication of their great grief and helplessness. In misery they were crying out for mercy (redeem us for thy mercies’ sake). The plural, mercies, was their way of saying that they did not want the long history of His mercies to their fathers to fail during their time of need. This is a plea for God’s unmerited grace for His afflicted people. There are some conclusions we can draw from this Psalm:
There is no area of our life in which God cannot see or detect sin. A clear conscience can give us great boldness to speak to God. We can endure all things for the sake of Christ, if we love Him supremely. Our greatest faith comes out of conflict
So Glad To Be So Saved
Danny "Preacher" Bezet