Summary: This psalm, like Psalm 42, bears a superscription dedicating it “to the chief Musician for the sons of Korah” and identifying it as a Maskil, meaning instructional. From this psalm we can see how much that generation still had to learn about the ways of God.
May 3, 2015
Title: PSALM 44
A psalm of Hezekiah?
Psalm 44 (KJV)
1 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.
2 How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.
3 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.
4 Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.
5 Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
6 For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
7 But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
8 In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
9 But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.
10 Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves.
11 Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen.
12 Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.
13 Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.
14 Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.
15 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,
16 For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.
17 All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.
18 Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
19 Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
22 Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.
There is little agreement among scholars as to when this psalm was written. Some think it was written when David reigned as king of Israel. Others assign it to the days of the Maccabees. Possibly it was written during the Assyrian invasion. But one thing is certain; it was written during a time of great national disaster and humiliation. It was a national lament which was originally used on a day of fasting called by the nation’s leader in order to appeal to God for help (2 Chronicles 20:4). It can logically be placed alongside the songs written by King Hezekiah. Psalm 45 seems to be Hezekiah’s wedding song. Following that there are three psalms (46, 47, 48) which deal specifically with the Assyrian invasion. Since we cannot say exactly when the psalm was written, and since the circumstances in Hezekiah’s Judah form a suitable background for it, we shall break it down in that light.
If ever there was a man who needed a note of grace, guidance, and gladness struck for him, it was King Hezekiah in the days when the dreaded Assyrian army was rampaging throughout his land.
The Jewish people sang praises to God after their great victories (Exodus 15; Judges 5), but this psalm was sung after a humiliating defeat (44:9-14, 22). Although Israel finally won great victories over their enemies, there must have been some defeats along the way that greatly disturbed the people. After all, Jehovah was their King (44:4) and had enabled Israel to conquer the land; so why would He desert His people as they sought to protect their inheritance? The pain of defeat is made bitterer by the memory of former victories, and we never value our fellowship with God so much as when His face seems to be hidden from us.
This psalm will show us how to pray for our country. Hezekiah’s country was in dire peril. The enemy was victorious in every encounter, but in his country’s hour of desperate need, Hezekiah prayed. We can be certain he prayed again and again as he saw the foe advancing and God, for some reason, remaining strangely silent and aloof. As we look at our own country in light of its increasing need, let us keep this psalm in mind. It is a useful intercessory psalm for a country in growing peril. A nation, in its hour of need, has only one true defense against the foe: the prayers of those citizens who know how to lay hold of God.