The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150

Psalm 44

Psa 44:1


HISTORICAL: Def a Hezekiah psalm. The first person pronouns in vv 4,6,15 are his. The Passover background, already noted is specially fitting because it was at a Passover when Hezekiah recovered from his great illness and when the Assyrian army was destroyed at the gates of Jerusalem (Isa 30:29,31; 31:5; 33:19,20; cp Isa 26:20,21 with Exo 12:22, and Isa 37:36 with Exo 12:23).

Psa 44:2

AND PLANTED OUR FATHERS: Israel, in preparation for 2Sa 7:10.

The Heb "nata" is used of planting gardens (eg, Eden: Gen 2:8) but only planting with a very long-term view: a tree, for example, but not a flowerbed. It carries the idea of deep-rooted establishment: sw in Gen 21:33; Exo 15:17; Num 24:6.

YOU CRUSHED THE PEOPLES: Not Israel. This Heb word "leumim" (in v 14 also) usually means the Canaanite or Arab people.

AND MADE OUR FATHERS FLOURISH: "And cast them out" (AV) should be: and spread them (Israel) abroad, like the branches of a tree (sw 80:11; also cp Jer 17:8; Eze 17:6; 31:5).

Psa 44:3

FACE (of God): In Psalms, always ref God's presence in ark/tabernacle/temple: see VL, Psalms, God's face.

Psa 44:4

YOU ARE MY KING: King Hezekiah makes ready acknowledgment that there is a King higher than he. Psa 20 is a coronation psalm. This v ("king"... "Jacob") looks back to vv 1,9 there.

WHO DECREES VICTORIES: A splendid example of the intensive plural. Hezekiah was asking for only one deliverance, but that is a very sensational one!

Psa 44:5

Hezekiah's faith that God would yet come to the rescue against the invaders. And note the corresponding negatives: "not by bow, nor sword". Deu 33:17 suggests the overpowering might of the Cherubim chariot of the Lord, as described in Eze 1. Note also Isa 37:16 and 1Ki 22:11.

Psa 44:7

Ref to former victories, in time of crisis, and esp in the overwhelming of the Egyptians at the Red Sea -- at Passover!

Psa 44:8

IN GOD WE MAKE OUR BOAST ALL DAY LONG: Counterpoint to the sustained Assyrian tirade against the Lord: Isa 36:7,15,18,20; 37:4, 16,17,23,24,28,29. See 2Ch 32:8. This was surely the only time until Antiochus Epiphanes in all their history when Israel suffered in the name of their God.

See Lesson, Selah.

Psa 44:9

YOU HAVE REJECTED AND HUMBLED US: Judah's helplessness in the face of the Assyrian invasion. But not really true: Psa 89:28.

Psa 44:11

TO BE DEVOURED LIKE SHEEP: RSV has "sheep for the slaughter", as in v 22. Also cp Isa 53:6,7.

AND HAVE SCATTERED US AMONG THE NATIONS: Sennacherib's inscription boasts that in this campaign he took away 200,150 captives (v 12 and Taylor's prism). Mic 4:10 says that he settled them in Babylon, which he had recently conquered.

Psa 44:12

GAINING NOTHING FROM THEIR SALE: That is, He has not increased His wealth by one jot by the "price" He has received for them! See Isa 52:3,4; Amo 1:6,9; Oba 1:11,12; Jer 15:13; Joe 3:1-7; Mic 7:12,13. Ct God's action in Psa 72:14; 116:15; Isa 43:3. We are redeemed/bought without silver or gold (1Pe 1:18,19; Rom 3:24,25).

Psa 44:13

REPROACH... SCORN... DERISION... BYWORD... SHAKE THEIR HEADS AT US: Surrounding nations (esp Edom and Moab) gloated over the discomfiture of Judah at this time.

Psa 44:14

THE PEOPLES SHAKE THEIR HEADS AT US: A "laughingstock" (RSV). But the tables were turned: 2Ki 19:21.

Psa 44:15

DISGRACE... SHAME: Not only politically, but also personally -- Hezekiah's dreadful disease.

MY DISGRACE: Ref Hezekiah's illness or to his seemingly pointless faith in God's deliverance?

MY FACE IS COVERED WITH SHAME: Ct 2Ch 32:21: Shame would ultimately cover the defeated Sennacherib, who made his ignominious retreat to Nineveh.

Psa 44:16

THOSE WHO REPROACH AND REVILE ME: Rabshakeh's sustained propaganda and brutal railing against Jerusalem -- its king, its people, and especially its God (cp Psa 123:3,4). Six times this word "reproach" is used about Rabshakeh: 2Ki 19:4,16,22,23; Isa 37:4,17.

THE ENEMY, WHO IS BENT ON REVENGE: Here is another "David and Goliath" situation (cp Psa 8:2).

Psa 44:17

THOUGH WE HAD NOT FORGOTTEN YOU: Spiritual decay of the nation in Isaiah's time. But here and in v 18 the Psa speaks for the faithful remnant (eg Isa 26:3,4,6-9,16; 33:2; 29:12-14; 30:15,18; etc) who continued to observe Passover in the years after 2Ch 30 and who remained loyal to the king and his supporting prophets, Isaiah, Micah, and others.

Psa 44:18

OUR HEARTS HAD NOT TURNED BACK: What a ct with their fathers, who "told" them: v 1; Psa 78:41.

Psa 44:19

JACKALS: AV has "dragons". Some say jackals (tannim). But could there be confusion with tanninim, great beasts, alluding to elephants in the massive Egyptian army which Sennacherib defeated at El-tekeh (Taylor prism again)?

AND COVERED US OVER WITH DEEP DARKNESS: AV has "the shadow of death": Cp Psa 23:4. Allusion to the destroying angel of the Passover (Exo 12:23; Isa 37:36)? Or to the pillar of cloud confounding the Egyptians (Exo 14:19,20)?

Psa 44:22

'We are killed all day long, like so many Passover lambs.' Reports were constantly coming in of massacres at captured towns and villages. One of Sennacherib's favorite tactics was to impale his prisoners on rows of stakes. This would be done just outside Jerusalem with intent to frighten and demoralize the besieged populace.

Psa 44:23

AWAKE, O LORD! WHY DO YOU SLEEP?: Normally God does come to the aid of His afflicted people. He does. And he did, in the middle of that Passover night (Isa 37:36). Note Psa 121:4, another Hezekiah psalm.

(NT) Plainly echoed in Mar 4:38 (and Mat 8:24 and Luk 8:24): It is the appeal of frightened disciples in the midst of an awesome storm at sea: "They awake him, and say unto him, 'Master, carest thou not that we perish?' " Of course he cared, and he would act -- at the proper time, but not before.

Psa 44:24

WHY DO YOU HIDE YOUR FACE?: Cp Isa 45:15, and esp Isa 6:2, to which most of such passages refer.

FACE (of God): In Psalms, always ref God's presence in ark/tabernacle/temple: see VL, Psalms, God's face.

Psa 44:25

Seemingly they were under a curse, like the serpent: Gen 3:14.

Psa 44:26

BECAUSE OF YOUR UNFAILING LOVE: So very often an allusion to God's covenants of promise (v 17), as in Mic 7:20.

SUBSCRIPTION: "FOR THE DIRECTOR OF MUSIC. TO THE TUNE OF 'LILIES' ": "Shoshannim" (AV). JWT provides good reasons for believing that lilies (shoshannim) were specially associated with the spring festival of Passover, and that the bells and pomegranates on the hem of the high priest's robe (Exo 28:34; 39:26) were actually symbolic flowers (lilies) and fruit (seed). Jewish coins of the Maccabean period feature the same symbolism. It is, then, very satisfying to find clear examples in this psalm of Passover language -- v 1: the tradition handed down from the fathers; vv 2,3: the conquest of the Land under Joshua, at another Passover; vv 11,22: slaughtered like Passover lambs.

Previous Index Next