Summary: These three psalms give us a wonderful picture of salvation, the Bride of Christ, and Jesus the Warrior King who rules for truth, justice, and humility.
This is a “maskil” which can mean a contemplative song or a well-written song. Psalm 44 is another of those laments where the people are feeling that God has rejected them because He has not rescued them from trouble. They’ve searched their hearts and can find no sin, but still God seems to be nowhere to be found. Sometimes we find ourselves in a similar situation—a troubled present after victories in the past, and God is absent—or seemingly so.
In the first 8 verses, the psalmist points out God’s victories for Israel as they came into the Promised Land.
1 – 8
The people of Israel loved to recount God’s wonderful victory of release from Egypt and the giving of the land of Canaan. Do you recount what God has done for you so others can hear it? What a great way to encourage the faith of others and also support your trust in God.
Deuteronomy 4:37-39 Because He loved your fathers, He chose their descendants after them and brought you out of Egypt by His presence and great power, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you in and give you their land as an inheritance, as is now taking place.
God incubated the nation in Egypt until the “iniquity of the Amorites reached its full measure” (Genesis 10:16). The people that occupied that land were among the most evil that ever lived. So God expelled them by His strong hand in this one-time holy war. All the children of Israel had to do was obey God in His sometimes strange ways of waging war (eg: walking around Jericho, sending the worship team out front, etc).
The psalmist recognized that it was not their strength that won the battle, but God’s. So the next section could be a “given this – what gives with our present situation?”
9 – 16
Notice first the honesty here. God knows our feelings, we might as well verbally express them to Him.
Look at all the words for defeat and ridicule that are used here: rejected, humiliated, retreat, hate, plunder, hand us over, eaten, scatter, sell, reproach, mockery, ridicule, laughingstock, disgrace, shame, scorn, reviler. In fact, nearly every Hebrew word for ridicule is used here.
The picture is that for all of the victories God wrought, now that He seems absent and doesn’t go out with them, it has completely turned to defeat. We know this happened several times in Israel’s history but was mostly because of their disobedience to God’s law.
So in the next section, the psalmist claims they are innocent.
17 – 22
So he says: “we haven’t forgotten You”, “we haven’t sinned”, “we haven’t neglected our relationship with you”, and “we haven’t served foreign gods.” At least to the psalmist, the rejection of the Lord was not a result of their sin. And sometimes that is the case. At times God just allows bad things to happen—take Job for example. Sometimes it is for God’s greater purpose that difficulties come into your life though you didn’t deserve them—take Jesus for example. But sometimes we think we have done nothing wrong—but our minds are simply covering for us. So it is a great idea to ask God to search you and reveal anything in your that’s broken that He wants to fix (Psalm 139:23-24).
The idea of “haunt of jackals” (or “dragons”) means a desolate place bereft of friendly people but filled with enemies.
Isaiah picked up the imagery of being “counted as sheep to be slaughtered” when he described the Messiah in Isaiah 53.
So finally he pleads with God to “walk up”!
23 – 26
Notice the end of the plea. The psalmist is not telling God how worthy they are. He is pleading with God based on “Your faithful love.” That’s the Hebrew word checed which means God’s covenant love for His people. That’s always how we should cry out to God—based on His love, not our merit.
So what can we learn from this psalm?
It’s good to remember what God has done for you
It’s good to remember that it is God’s strength, not your own, that matters
Sometimes it’s not your fault (and sometimes it is)
No matter how desperate, don’t try to solve problems yourself if God tarries
Focus on what God is doing, not what is going on around you
Notice something else—God seemingly rejected Israel here but not because of their sin. Jesus, as the ultimate Israel, was rejected by God but not for His own sin. This happened so that you would never be rejected by the Lord!
Isaiah 53:4-5 but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.