Why do you sleep?
Do not cast us off forever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
We sink down to the dust.
Our bodies cling to the ground.
Come to our help!
For the sake of your steadfast love!’
Instead of an ending praise, this is like a command to God to help them. This psalmist wanted God to wake up from his sleep. They did not want to be cast off forever. Why was God hiding his face? Had he forgotten about their afflictions and oppressions? They were sinking like dust on the ground. He wanted God to rise up and help him. He wanted God to show his steadfast love by saving them.
“If we had forgotten the name of our God,
If we have spread out our hands to a strange god,
Would not God discover this?
He knows the secrets of the heart.
Because of you,
We are being killed all day long.
We are accounted
As sheep for the slaughter.”
Once again there is a lament. They have not forgotten the name of God. They have not worshipped strange gods. God would know this if they had done it. They were being killed all day long like sheep going to the slaughter, a repetition of what was just said earlier.
“All this has come upon us.
Yet we have not forgotten you.
We have not been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back.
Our steps have not departed from your way.
Yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals.
You have covered us with deep darkness.”
The psalmist complained about what has happened to them. They did not forget God. They remembered his covenant. Their hearts and their steps are still turned to God since they have not departed from his ways. Yet they are broken down. They have been covered with a deep darkness. They want to know why. What did they do wrong?
“You have made us the taunt of our neighbors.
You have made us the derision and scorn of those about us.
You have made us a byword among the nations.
You have made us a laughing stock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me.
Shame has covered my face,
At the words of the taunters
At the words of the revilers,
At the sight of the enemy,
At the sight of the avenger.”
Their neighbors were taunting them. Obviously this psalm was written after the captivity, not at the time of David. They were scorned as they became a byword among the various nations. They were a laughing stock among the various peoples. They were ashamed at the words of the taunters and revilers. They were shamed in the sight of their enemies and avengers.
“Yet you have rejected us.
You have abased us.
You have not gone out with our armies.
You make us turn back from the foe.
Our enemies have gotten spoils.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter.
You have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle.
You demanded no high price for them.”
This is one of the few times that the psalmist talks about a defeat. They have been rejected by God since God has not gone out with their armies. Thus they were defeated. They were not able to turn back their enemies. In fact, the foes have taken spoils from them. They were like sheep brought to slaughter. They were scattered among the nations, a clear allusion to the captivity. They were sold for a trifle, since there was no high price placed on them.
“You are my king!
You are my God!
You commanded victories for Jacob.
We push down our foes.
Through your name
We tread down our assailants.
Not in my bow do I trust.
Nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes.
You have put to confusion
Those who hate us.
We have boasted continually.
We will give thanks to your name forever.”
God is their king since he commanded the victories of Jacob. Actually most of the time he reference was to Israel rather than Jacob. Because of God they were able to put down foes. Because of his name they were able to tread down their assailants. They had not trusted in their bows and arrows or swords. God has saved them from their foes. He forced those who hate God into confusion. They continue to boast in his name forever. However, here there is no indication of the name of Yahweh as it had been earlier. This section ends with the Selah, a meditative musical pause.
To the choirmaster leader, a Maskil of the Korahites
“We have heard with our ears!
Our ancestors have told us.
What deeds you performed in their days,
In the days of old,
You with your own hand
Drove out the nations.
But then you planted them.
You afflicted the peoples,
But you set them free.
Not by their own sword
Did they win the land.
Their own arm did not give them victory.
But your right hand,
Your arm led them.
The light of your countenance shone
Because you delighted in them.”
Just like Psalm 42, Psalm 44, is one of the 11 Korahite Maskil psalms, that reference the sons of Korah, who were first mentioned in 1 Chronicles, chapter 9. These present psalmists had heard with their ears the stories of their ancestors about the good old days. God had been good to their ancestors. With his own hand he drove out the various nations and planted his favorite afflicted people. They did not accomplish this with their own swords. They did not capture the land with their own hands. God gave them victory with his right hand, his arm and the light of his face because he delighted in them.