Psalm 44

We are going to look at one of the most surprising and mysterious psalms

·             The psalm divides into five stanzas

·             The first stanza (1-3) talks about the old stories of how God saved his people.

1O God, we have heard with our ears, To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah

our fathers have told us,

what deeds you performed in their days,

in the days of old:

2you with your own hand drove out the nations,

but them you planted;

you afflicted the peoples,

but them you set free;

3for not by their own sword did they win the land,

nor did their own arm save them,

but your right hand and your arm,

and the light of your face,

for you delighted in them.

Most of us have probably heard stories of how God has done wonderful things in the past.

·             The Psalmist is thinking of the great stories of the Exodus: Plagues/Red sea/Jericho/Conquest

·             Maybe we have read stories from the past… [John Paton and the angels]

·             Maybe we have Christian parents or relatives… [my parents very generous, God always supplied…]

Next he talks about what God has done in his own lifetime:

4You are my King, O God;

ordain salvation for Jacob!

5Through you we push down our foes;

through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.

6For not in my bow do I trust,

nor can my sword save me.

7But you have saved us from our foes

and have put to shame those who hate us.

8In God we have boasted continually,

and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

You can probably think of great things God has done for you, or your friends, in the recent past...

·             A few years ago when I was on a student visa, I was given wrong advice about my visa, and ended up being in a panic about my immigration.

·             But I knew the Lord wanted me here in Canada, so I just cried out to him to help me.

·             In the space of a day, every single problem was taken care of, by God’s amazing providence

·             I called to him and he helped me!!

A couple of days ago I heard a missionary talking about her experiences.

·             [London: Patrick, Jean] [Bandits in Mozambique, truck.]

·             She cried out to God and he helped her

·             Have you ever been desperate, and cried out to God, and he has helped you?

But now, in the third stanza, there is a huge change. We begin to learn what the psalm is all about:

9But you have rejected us and disgraced us

and have not gone out with our armies.

10You have made us turn back from the foe,

and those who hate us have gotten spoil.

11You have made us like sheep for slaughter

and have scattered us among the nations.

12You have sold your people for a trifle,

demanding no high price for them.

13You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,

the derision and scorn of those around us.

14You have made us a byword among the nations,

a laughingstock among the peoples.

15All day long my disgrace is before me,

and shame has covered my face

16at the sound of the taunter and reviler,

at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

Everything is going wrong, and God seems to be nowhere to be seen.

We can’t be sure of the exact historical background,
and I think that is deliberate, because I think we are to identify with it

Do things ever go wrong in your life?

Yesterday I was awoken at 4:00am by a phone call. …from the police…

Bad things happen. Does anything bad ever happen to you?

The missionary I told you about with the angels, John Paton, spend years traveling & raising money…

The missionaries in Mozambique built up a big orphanage, 100’s of children. Marxist government…

My brother’s wife died of cancer. She was only in her 30’s and she left three young daughters motherless.

·             Bad things happen to us.

·             Do they happen because we have done wrong and God is punishing us?

Hear how the psalm continues: [4th]

17All this has come upon us,

though we have not forgotten you,

and we have not been false to your covenant.

18Our heart has not turned back,

nor have our steps departed from your way;

19yet you have broken us in the place of jackals

and covered us with the shadow of death.

20If we had forgotten the name of our God

or spread out our hands to a foreign god,

21would not God discover this?

For he knows the secrets of the heart.

22Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

This reminds me of the book of Job.

Everything went wrong for Job…

His friends said…


This brings us to the final stanza:

23Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?

Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!

24Why do you hide your face?

Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

25For our soul is bowed down to the dust;

our belly clings to the ground.

26Rise up; come to our help!

Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!


The psalmist is really upset!!!

He pleads with God and just cries out for pity and mercy.

·             It seems that God is not being fair!!!

·             He has made promises and is not being faithful to them.

·             His actions, his works, do not match up with his words.

·             Have you ever felt like that? …. I confess that I have!!!

·             I have pleaded with God and it seems to make no difference.

·             God does not seem to be interested in my problems at all.

·             Where are his promises of faithfulness, like “I will never leave you nor forsake you” ??

The ending of this psalm seems abrupt. We expect it to have another stanza:

I called unto the Lord and he answered me

I cried to him and he heard my voice

He brought my feet up out of the pit

He set them on a high rock

The Lord is my strength and my high tower

I will praise his name for evermore.

But it doesn’t!!!!!

Why does it end like this?

I struggled long and hard with this psalm.

I pleaded with God to know how to interpret it.

Finally I believe God gave me some understanding of it.

1.                  The psalm ends like this so that we can identify with it, while we are in our problems.
[else we would say “it’s ok for the psalmist, God answered him…”]

2.                  There is deliberately no answer within the psalm. We have to look outside of it

3.                  God has given us a key, and the key is that the Apostle Paul quotes the psalm and explains to us it’s meaning.



Romans 8:1-39

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

36As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

We are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38For I am sure that neither death nor life,
nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come,
nor powers,
39nor height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


The Psalmist is talking about a situation in which
outward circumstances have gone bad, and God is not making them good again.

Paul’s answer is one that we don’t expect…

Its ok for outward circumstances to be bad, if inward circumstances are wonderful.


Paul interprets the Psalm in the context of the whole Psalter

Paul’s point is that the external problems cannot shake us because

1. there is a victorious king

2. loves us intensely

What is really exciting is that if we look at the following Psalm, Psalm 45, we see that this is exactly the point of the Psalm. The first half pictures the conquering king (whom we know to be Jesus Christ from the Psalms use by N.T. authors). The second half pictures his bride and the wedding. The language is unmistakably similar to that of Song of Solomon, yet we know without a doubt that the bridegroom-king is Jesus Christ.

Psalm 45 provides the answer to Psalm 44. It is the answer that Paul gives us. The external situation looks bad, and contains no answers. The only answer is found in God’s covenant promise that his anointed one will ultimately rule the nations, and his bride will forget all the hardship of former times as she rejoices in her exalted and secure state with her new lover.

This provides further evidence of the unity of the book of Psalms and the deliberated ordering of the Psalms. Indeed, the previous two Psalms, 42 & 43 are well known to be a pair as they share a common chorus line.