I. God’s Past Acts of Deliverance (44:1-8)
A. The distant past (1-3)
- The psalm begins by the sons of Korah recalling the distant past how God had delivered their forefathers. The passage seems to certainly describe the time when God led the people of Israel into Canaan, driving out the other nations (44:2).
- Furthermore, the author recalls how the victory came from the arm of the Lord and not the sword of the people. One cannot help but think about the conquest of Jericho and the victory given to Gideon in the days of the judges. They have heard these stories and are aware of the mighty hand of God who was leading Israel in the past.
B. The nearer past (4-8)
- Not only does the author remember what the Lord had done for his people in the distant past, he also remembers what God has done for the people lately. God has saved them from their foes (44:7) and tread down any of the enemies that had previously risen up (44:5).
- Due to all the great deeds of the Lord and victory given from the Lord, the people continue to praise the name of the Lord and give him thanks. As we read this psalm, we may think this psalm is a psalm of praise or a psalm of thanksgiving for the mighty deeds of God. However, the psalm now takes a turn and describes the suffering they are enduring now. If you recall, David repeatedly reminded the worshippers to remember how God has delivered us in the past to give us faith in God as we deal with current and future problems. The sons of Korah and the people of Israel have heeded this advice and do recall all the mighty works of God and are thankful for all God has done. But the people are suffering.
II. The Problems of the Present (44:9-22)
A. Dealing with adversity
- Verse 9 brings about the complete change of theme. Notice the words, “But now you have rejected and humbled us.” The cry of the people is their desire to know why the Lord no longer is going out with them into battle and giving them victory.
- As you read this section of scripture, notice the defeat the people have suffered. “You made us retreat before the enemy and our adversaries plundered us” (44:10). “You gave us up to be devoured like sheep and have scattered us among the nations” (44:11). God had sold them for next to nothing (44:12). “You have made us a reproach to our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us” (44:13). “You have made us a byword among the nations; the peoples shake their heads at us” (44:14). They are a disgrace, covered with shame, a reproach, and reviled by their enemies (44:15-16).
- The people are in the midst of great suffering. They are being defeated by their enemies. It seems that God is not with them as they go into battle. They are being plundered by their enemies and the nations around ridicule and mock Israel. The people want to know what is going on!
B. Disaster during faithfulness
- If I were to take a poll and ask each of us to give a reason why the nation is going through this disaster, what you would response be? The psalm declares that God has rejected them and they are being driven away by their enemies. What is the reason for this disaster?
- I believe all of us would believe that the nation has sinned. In fact, as we read this information, it sounds like the time Assyria conquered the northern nation of Israel and scattered them across the land. I believe we would expect that the nation had sinned and because of their sins, God had abandoned them and allowed the surrounding nations to conquer them.
- But read verses 17-22 carefully. “All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant” (44:17). “Our hearts have not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path” (44:18). Let these words sink down into our ears and hearts: disaster had struck Israel and sin was not the reason for the calamity. The people had not turned away from the laws of the Lord nor had their hearts left the Lord. Though the people had not broken their covenant with the Lord, they were being crushed and covered in darkness.
- Too often we do not allow for ourselves that disaster can strike our lives though we have not committed sin. We especially do not allow room for this possibility in other people’s lives. Consider the strain of the words written in this psalm. The people of Israel are being destroyed by their enemies. They are being plundered and scorned by their enemies.
C. More than conquerors
- Verse 22 is quoted in the New Testament, where Paul is making the same application to the Christians in the heart of Satan’s throne: Rome. Paul says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered‘” (Romans 8:35-37).
- I believe we can look at Paul’s life and, in terms of the physical, declare it a disaster. Paul suffered the trouble, hardships, persecutions, famine, nakedness, danger, and sword throughout his whole Christian life. Paul died at the hands of one of the more evil emperors to sit on Rome’s throne, Nero. Paul could have very well written this psalm as well. Paul had not turned his heart from the Lord and his feet had not strayed from the way of the Lord.
- There are many times in life when we will serve God faithfully, yet still be made to suffer. But in the midst of these words Paul says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” What can put room between us and the love of Christ? Can anyone put a distance between Christ’s love and us? Can anyone lead Christ to stop loving us? Paul is telling us that there is nothing that can happening that will cause Christ to stop loving us or place a distance between us and Christ’s love.
- What a challenge it is for us to continue to rely upon God and believe in the love of Christ when we are suffering to such a degree! But notice what Paul reminds us: “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” In all of these things we are more than conquerors. How are we more than conquerors in all these things?
- First, we are more than conquerors because the love of Christ remains with us while we endure. Though we may feel rejected, there has been no distance that has been placed between us and Christ’s love. Second, we are more than conquerors because we will conquer whatever adversity we face because of Christ’s love. We have conquered many past trials and we will conquer again. This conquering is the theme of Revelation.
- Rev. 2:7 “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Rev. 2:11 “The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” Rev. 2:17 “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Rev. 2:26 “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations….” Rev. 3:5 “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” Rev. 3:12 “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” Rev. 3:21 “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Rev. 21:7 “The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” We have been given the challenge to conquer in this life with the help of Jesus Christ and we can do it.
III. Prayer for the Future
A. Continue turning to God for help
- How do we endure such times of suffering so that we also can conquer? I believe the psalmist shows us by his actions. We see the author continuing to turn to God for help. In verse 23 the psalmist cries out to the Lord to arise and help. Some have well expressed this psalm like this: “You helped us in the past. You must help us now. But you are not helping us, even though we have done nothing to prohibit your helping us. So help us.”
- Do not give up on God. Even though we may not see the immediate results of our requests, we cannot give up on God and his love toward us. Continue to call out to God for actions. Let us never forget Jesus’ parable about the persistent widow and the unjust judge. Jesus taught us to continue to ask God and be persistent in our declaring our needs and desires to God. Be repetitive and be steadfast in your requests to God.
B. Trust in God’s unfailing love
- The psalm ends in such amazing words, “because of your unfailing love.” In the midst of great suffering, the call continues to go out “Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.” Such words match the great words of Paul as he wrote about his suffering in the eighth chapter of Romans. Also, as you read these words, notice the equal spacing of these words throughout the chapter. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17). We must suffer before we can obtain glory. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). The reward cannot even be compared with what we are sacrificing now.
- “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God is always on our side and always working for us. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
- Sometimes there is no explanation for the suffering of the faithful. In all of this psalm, there is no explanation given for the why the people are suffering loss in the way described. Paul does not give an explanation as to why we are suffering the things we suffer. But we must always realize that the faithful will and do suffer.
- Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Despite all we endure and all we suffering, God is still with us. There has been no distance placed between us and the love of God. We cannot look at others and think they are closer to God’s love because they are not suffering. Though suffering, Christ’s endless love is still around us.
- In all the things we suffer, we are made to be more than conquerors. We can and will be victorious and conquer all strife when we continue to place our lives in God’s hands. We will endure and will see that the present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory we will have in the Lord.