Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reflecting on the Psalms: Chapter 44

Psalm 44

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, Maschil.

1We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.
2How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.
3For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.
4Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.
5Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
6For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
7But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
8In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
9But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.
10Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves.
11Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen.
12Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.
13Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.
14Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.
15My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,
16For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.
17All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.
18Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
19Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.
20If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
21Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
22Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
23Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
24Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
25For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.

26Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.

Chapter 44

Matthew Henry comments on the first few verses by stating the following, "Former experiences of God's power and goodness are strong supports to faith, and powerful pleas in prayer under present calamities. The many victories Israel obtained, were not by their own strength or merit, but by God's favour and free grace. The less praise this allows us, the more comfort it affords, that we may see all as coming from the favour of God. He fought for Israel, else they had fought in vain." With that being said, I can learn from people such as Moses and Joshua (vv. 1-3) and their faith in action. It's as if God uses those guys as examples for me to learn from so I can see what they did right as well as what they did wrong, which I imagine can be of encouragement either way. Henry's commentary also works because both Moses and Joshua -- who were two men that came to mind when I read verses 1-3 -- were involved in Israel and her relatonship with God. I think that's kind of an interesting connection and I'm gald that verses 1-3 emphasize learning from the faith of those who lived during Old Testament because I think it gives me more reason to (continue to) read the Old Testament. Even though it may be hard to understand at times, I know that I can depend on God to help me understand it. As God commanded deliverances or victories for Jacob (v. 4), I can ask for victory from Him when I know I'm gonna need it. I am reminded of the fact that I've passed all my tests and quizzes in my algebra class thus far and I think part of that has to do with asjing God for victory. And by achieving victory in Him, I see that as a deliverance of what could otherwise be failure. He also delivers me from my enemies (v. 5), which I find great comfort in. I think that by doing that, He is expressing is love to me by saying that I can maintain my realtionship with Him if I don't get involved with my enemies to the point where they have an advantage over me. I can't put my trust in material things to deal with my enemies (v. 6) because material things, such as a bow or a sword, don't last forever and they can easily break down. Furthermore, if I did use material things to deal with my enemies, I'd be having vengeance upon them, which is God's place, as I've talked about before. I am reminded to let God deal with my enemies (v. 7) and I know that doing so takes the burden off my shoulders to where I am not required to deal with my enemies on my own. I know and trust that God will deal with them as He sees fit. I will be thankful for the fact that He has delivered me from my enemies (v. 8) by continaully praising Him for it. I can't say I've dealt with many enemies, but there is always the possibily that I will and that I can trust in God to help me out.

Now I think I'll cover verses 9-16. Matthew Henry comments on the first few verses by stating the following, "The believer must have times of temptation, affliction, and discouragement; the church must have seasons of persecution. At such times the people of God will be ready to fear that he has cast them off, and that his name and truth will be dishonoured. But they should look above the instruments of their trouble, to God, well knowing that their worst enemies have no power against them, but what is permitted from above." I can relate to the passage mostly because of my darkest moment, which I've talked about before. I felt that God had cast me away from Him (v. 9) and gave me over to Satan (v. 10). I didn't think God cared about during my tribulation period but that was just the evil one trying to get me to believe his lies. I remember feeling a sheep left for slaughter (v. 11) because I had no way of protecting myself and since Christ is my Shepherd, I felt like one of His sheep that had wandered off since I was experiencing a sense of abandonment. I did end up coming back to Him, though. I'm not sure if verse 12 really applies to me, but I do imagine that some of my neghbors didn't want to be around me (v. 13). I don't particularly remember that, though, so I'm not sure if verse 14 really fits. However, I do remember feelings of shame (v. 15) and confusion because I hard time figuring out what God was trying to tell me while giving into Satan's lies. I was ashamed of the fact that I had given into the enemy's lies (v. 16) when God revealed the truth to me. I think that happened during the end of my tribulation period. By growing closer to God, I was able to had been lying to me, which I wished I figured out sooner.

Now I think I'll about verses 17-26. Even though I went through a period of tribulation, I didn't quit and give up on God (v. 17). If I did, I would've never made it through my darkest moment. "Neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant" means to me that I didn't give up on the fact that I made an agreement with God by accepting His Son as my Lord and Savior even though I could have during my darkest moment. It's as if nothing has happened in my life to where I wanted to give up on God because doing so would've been a cop out. I didn't leave God (v. 18) nor do I plan on doing so. I can't really relate to verse 19, so I'm not gonna force myself to. However, I will talk about verses 20-26. If I were to give into idol worship (v. 20), it's not like God wouldn't know about it (v. 21). He knows the desires of my heart and since He knows that, He can free me from idol worship because I seek to worhsip Him and live for Him. It's as if God me from that kind of thing and bring me back to Him, which is kinda cool. Verse 22, to me, is talking about persecution, especially where is says, "Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long." I can't say I've faced serious persecution to the point of having death threats mentioned to me for being a Christian, but I probably have been persecuted, in small ways, for being a Christian. I imgaine that if someone wanted to kill me for being a Christian, I'd feel rather discouraged and question where God is (vv. 23-24). I know that God would help me out in that time, though (vv. 25-26) and if I was killed for being a Christian, I'd end up in a better place and wouldn't have to worry or doubt if God would be sure of that. I feel that is expressed in verses 25-26 because even if I was killed for being a Christian, I'd be redeemed by spending eternity with God.

                                                   Source used:

Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Psalms 44". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
on the Whole Bible". <http://www.searchgodsword.org/com/mhc-con/view.cgi?book=ps&chapter=044>.

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