Have you ever felt like God was sleeping while your life was in ruins? Have you ever felt like God was punishing you but you did not know why? In this second psalm by the Sons of Korah we see how the psalmist handled these feelings.
Psalm 44 is made up of 5 Parts and 8 Sections in a regular concentric pattern:
|Part 1||Verse 1||1 section||2 verse lines|
|Part 2||Verses 2-8||2 section||8 verse lines|
|Part 3||Verses 9-16||2 section||8 verse lines|
|Part 4||Verses 17-24||2 section||8 verse lines|
|Part 5||Verses 25-26||1 section||2 verse lines|
We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago. Psalm 44:1
This introduction is interesting because, at first glance, it seems to be positive. But it actually hints to the deep frustration that will become evident as the psalm progresses. Yes, he has heard of what God has done "long ago", but he has not seen it in the present - and there lies the problem.
The Past: Victory Through You!
In the past God's people experienced many victories. Victories that could only be won because of the power and blessing of God.
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. Psalm 44:3
The psalmist acknowledges that God is the only one who can bring victory.
I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame. Psalm 44:6-7
And now we reach the climax of what appears to be a very positive and joyful psalm:
In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever. Psalm 44:8
The Present: Rejected By You
With these two words the psalm takes a sudden turn from apparent joy to great sorrow. This sudden change is jarring to the reader and I believe is intended to take you by surprise and grab your attention.
But now you have rejected and humbled us; Psalm 44:9
It appears to the psalmist that God has completely rejected them. He is no longer blessing them as He did in the past. Why has God rejected them? What did He gain. The psalmist cannot see that God has gained anything from this.
You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale. Psalm 44:12
But We Are Innocent
All of this would be bad enough if they were being punished for their sin, but, to make matters even worse, the psalmist cannot see any reason for this punishment.
All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant. Psalm 44:17
Now we get to the meat of the problem: the psalmist feels like he is innocent of any crime deserving the punishment. Life is like that. Suffering and pain happens to all of us. Sometimes in the middle of the pain we look up and wonder, "What have I done? Why are you punishing me?"
Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression? Psalm 44:23-24
I love that the psalms are often so raw with emotion. The psalmist is not afraid to let God know how he feels. But where is the answer to the problem? I think for the ancient reader of the psalm the answer could be found by looking at other psalms, but in the the New Testament Paul gave us an answer in Romans 8.
Paul quotes from Psalm 44:22, "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." Paul then reminds us that no matter what suffering we may experience in life, it does not mean that God has rejected us or forgotten us.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39
Your Love Is Our Hope
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love. Psalm 44:26
God's love will not leave us. It is because of God's unfailing love that we can go through suffering and know that God is still with us.
Don't despair when you face trials. God may allow you to go through suffering and you may never know the reason, but God's love is still with you. He suffered for you and understands what you are going through. Like this psalmist, talk to God about your feelings. Be open and honest, but never forget that God is with you even when He seems to have forgotten you. Trust in God's unfailing love!