This Psalm teaches us to cleave to Him and our duty to Him in every state of distress for He sympathises with us. Part 2 of Psalm 44. Come to our help.
Psalm 44:12-26 – You have made us the taunt of our neighbours, the derision and scorn of those around us.You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughing-stock among the peoples. All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger. All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten You, and we have not been false to Your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from Your way;yet You have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death. If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this? For He knows the secrets of the heart. Yet for Your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do You hide your face? Why do You forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!
It was a holy blushing
Henry says – They were loaded with contempt, and all possible disgrace was upon them. Yet in this they acknowledge God: “You make us a reproach, You bring these calamities upon us which cause the reproach, and You permit their tongues to smite us.” They complain that they were ridiculed and were looked upon as the most contemptible people under the sun.
Their neighbours, which were heathens, were most abusive to them, Ps. 44:13. They triumphed in their fall, Ps. 44:14. The reproach was constant and incessant (Ps. 44:15): My confusion is continually before me. Such is also the church in general which is continually teased and vexed with the insults of the enemy. Concerning those that are going down they all cry, “Down with them.” It was so grievous that it overwhelmed him: The shame of my face has covered me. He blushed for sin, or rather for the dishonour done to God, and then it was a holy blushing.
He complained that the reproach which the enemy cast upon them was downright blasphemy against God, Ps. 44:16; and 2 Kgs. 19:3. There was therefore strong reason to believe that God would appear for them. There is nothing more grievous to a holy, gracious soul than blasphemy and dishonour done to God. The people of God, being greatly afflicted and oppressed, here apply to Him, where else should they go? They can appeal to the only infallible judge.
Yet we have not forsaken You
Though they suffered these hard things, yet they kept close to God and to their duty to Him. (Ps. 44:17): “All this has come upon us, and it is as bad perhaps as bad can be, yet we have not forgotten You, nor deserted the worship of You. We cannot deny that we have dealt foolishly, yet we have not dealt falsely in Your covenant, so as cast You off. We have not taken other gods. Though idolaters may seem to conqueror us, we did not entertain any favourable thoughts of their idols and idolatries. Though You seemed to have forsaken us and withdrawn from us, yet we have not forsaken You.”
The trouble that they had been in was very great: “We have been sorely broken in the place of dragons, among men as fierce, and furious, and cruel as dragons. We have been covered with the shadow of death, that is, we have been under deep melancholy and apprehensive of nothing short of death. We have been wrapped up in obscurity, and buried alive yet we have not harboured any hard thoughts of You, nor retreated from Your service.
Though You have slain us, we have continued to trust in You: Our heart has not turned back. We have not secretly withdrawn our affections from You, neither have our steps, either in our religious worship or in our conversation, declined from Your ways (Ps. 44:18), the way which You have appointed us to walk in.” When the heart turns back, the steps will soon follow, for it is the evil heart of unbelief that departs from God.
All sins are known to God
We are more able to bear our troubles, however pressing, if in them we still hold fast our integrity with God. While our troubles do not drive us from our duty to God we should not allow them to drive us from our comfort in God. For He will not leave us, if we do not leave Him. As proof of this they ask of God’s omniscience to witness for them, which is as much the comfort of the upright in heart as it is the terror of hypocrites.
(Ps. 44:20, 21): “If we have forgotten the name of our God, under pretence that He had forgotten us, or in our distress have stretched out our hands to a strange god, as more likely to help us, shall not God search this out? He shall judge it, and call us to an account for it” Forgetting God is a heart-sin, and stretching out the hand to a strange god is a secret sin, Ezek. 8:12. But heart-sins and secret sins are known to God, and must be reckoned with. For He knows the secrets of the heart, and therefore is a infallible judge of the words and actions.
The same hand that tears, heals
They suffered these hard things because they kept close to God and to their duty (Ps. 44:22): “It is for Your sake that we are killed all the day long, because we stand related to You, are called by Your name, call upon Your name, and will not worship other gods.” In this the Spirit of prophecy had reference to those who suffered even unto death for the testimony of Christ, to whom it is applied, Rom. 8:36. So many were killed, and put to such lingering deaths, that they were in the killing all the day long. So universally was this practised that when a man became a Christian he reckoned himself as a sheep appointed for the slaughter.
They petitioned that God would, in His own due time, work deliverance for them. Their request is very immediate: Awake, arise, Ps. 44:23. Arise for our help, redeem us (Ps. 44:26), come speedily and powerfully to our relief, Ps. 80:2. Stir up Your strength, and come and save us. They had complained (Ps. 44:12) that God had sold them. Here they pray (Ps. 44:26) that God would redeem them. We cannot appeal from God, but only appeal to Him. If He sell us, there is no one else who can redeem us. The same hand that tears must heal, that smites must bind up, Hos. 6:1.
Lord, save us
They complained (Ps. 44:9), You have cast us off; but here they pray (Ps. 44:23), “Do not cast us not off forever, let us not be eternally forsaken of God.” Why do You sleep? Ps. 44:23. He who keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps, but when He does not immediately appear for the deliverance of His people, they are tempted to think He is asleep. The expression is figurative (as Ps. 78:65; Then the Lord awaked as one out of sleep), but it was applicable to Christ in the letter. (Matt. 8:24) He was asleep when His disciples were in a storm, and they awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us, we are perishing. “Why have You hidden Your face, that we may not see You and the light of Your countenance?”
They plead a poor sinner’s plea. Their own misery made them the proper objects of the divine compassion (Ps. 44:25): “Our soul is bowed down to the dust under prevailing grief and fear. We have become as creeping things, the most despicable animals. Our belly cleaves unto the earth and we cannot lift ourselves up, nor revive our own drooping spirits. We cannot recover ourselves out of our low and sad condition, and we lie exposed to be trodden on by every insulting foe.”
Yet they appeal to God’s mercy: “O redeem us for Your mercies’ sake. We depend upon the goodness of Your nature, which is the glory of Your name (Exod. 34:6), and upon those sure mercies of David which are conveyed by the covenant to all his spiritual seed.”
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
[Slide right to left] Help me Lord Help me Lord to speak Your Word, no idle talk. Help me Lord direct my feet So in You only, I walk. Help me Lord to stand Let boldness by my name Help me Lord, give me authority Your gospel to proclaim. Help me Lord to love Others as You love me Help me Lord so with Your eyes Only Jesus I see. Help me Lord, please help me Give me your strength and power To ride the raging storms Of my darkest hour. Help me Lord to rise Above the threatening cloud Help me Lord to sing And shout Your name out loud. Then help me Lord to be quiet Not to inwardly protest That I may see Your face And seek Your wonderful rest. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer for the Day
Father, I come to You. Whenever I am greatly afflicted and oppressed may I quickly take my refuge in You. Thank You that I have You to appeal to as my infallible judge. Whenever I suffer hard things may I keep close to You and not forsake my duty to You. Even when it seems I have been forsaken and You have withdrawn from me, may I never so much as hint at forsaking You.
When I am under a deep melancholy and apprehensive and am wrapped up in obscurity, may I never retreat from Your service. Even if You slay me, may I continue to trust in You. May my affections from You never be secretly withdrawn nor my steps, either in my worship or in my conversation, ever decline from Your ways, the way which You have appointed me to walk in. For I know that when the heart turns back, the steps will soon follow, for it is the heart of unbelief that departs from God.
May I hold fast to my integrity in You and so be able to bear all my troubles. Cause my troubles to not drive me from my duty to You or from the comfort I find in You. For I know truly that You will not leave me, if I do not leave You.
I ask that You, in Your own time will work deliverance for me. For I know that my misery causes me to be the object of Your compassion. I can never recover myself out of my low and sad condition. I depend upon the goodness of Your nature. Thank You that the sure mercies of David carried forward by the covenant to all who are his spiritual seed. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.