God’s Past Favor and Israel’s Present Need
1For the leader. A maskil of the Korahites.
2O God, we have heard with our own ears;
our ancestors have told usa
The deeds you did in their days,
with your own hand in days of old:
3You rooted out nations to plant them,b
crushed peoples and expelled them.
4Not with their own swords did they conquer the land,c
nor did their own arms bring victory;
It was your right hand, your own arm,
the light of your face for you favored them.d
5You are my king and my God,e
who bestows victories on Jacob.
6Through you we batter our foes;
through your name we trample our adversaries.
7Not in my bow do I trust,
nor does my sword bring me victory.
8You have brought us victory over our enemies,
shamed those who hate us.
9In God we have boasted all the day long;
your name we will praise forever.
10fBut now you have rejected and disgraced us;
you do not march out with our armies.g
11You make us retreat* before the foe;
those who hate us plunder us at will.h
12You hand us over like sheep to be slaughtered,
scatter us among the nations.i
13You sell your people for nothing;
you make no profit from their sale.j
14You make us the reproach of our neighbors,k
the mockery and scorn of those around us.
15You make us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
16All day long my disgrace is before me;
shame has covered my face
17At the sound of those who taunt and revile,
at the sight of the enemy and avenger.
18All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
nor been disloyal to your covenant.
19*Our hearts have not turned back,
nor have our steps strayed from your path.
20Yet you have left us crushed,
desolate in a place of jackals;*l
you have covered us with a shadow of death.
21If we had forgotten the name of our God,
stretched out our hands to another god,
22Would not God have discovered this,
God who knows the secrets of the heart?
23For you we are slain all the day long,
considered only as sheep to be slaughtered.m
24Awake! Why do you sleep, O Lord?
Rise up! Do not reject us forever!n
25Why do you hide your face;o
why forget our pain and misery?
26For our soul has been humiliated in the dust;p
our belly is pressed to the earth.
27Rise up, help us!
Redeem us in your mercy.
* [Psalm 44] In this lament the community reminds God of past favors which it has always acknowledged (Ps 44:2–9). But now God has abandoned Israel to defeat and humiliation (Ps 44:10–17), though the people are not conscious of any sin against the covenant (Ps 44:18–23). They struggle with being God’s special people amid divine silence; yet they continue to pray (Ps 44:24–26).
* [44:11] You make us retreat: the corollary of Ps 44:3. Defeat, like victory, is God’s doing; neither Israel nor its enemies can claim credit (Ps 44:23).
* [44:19] Our hearts have not turned back: Israel’s defeat was not caused by its lack of fidelity.
* [44:20] A place of jackals: following Israel’s defeat and exile (Ps 44:11–12), the land lies desolate, inhabited only by jackals, cf. Is 13:22; Jer 9:10; 10:22. Others take tannim as “sea monster” (cf. Ez 29:3; 32:2) and render: “you crushed us as you did the sea monster.”
c. [44:4] Dt 8:17f; Jos 24:12.
d. [44:4] Ps 4:7; 31:17; 67:2; 80:4; Nm 6:25; Dn 9:17.
h. [44:11] Lv 26:17; Dt 28:25.
i. [44:12] Lv 26:33; Dt 28:64.
k. [44:14–17] Ps 79:4; 80:7; 123:3–4; Jb 12:4; Dn 9:16.
n. [44:24] Ps 10:1; 74:1; 77:8; 79:5; 83:2.
o. [44:25] Ps 10:11; 89:47; Jb 13:24.