On Psalm 44—Part 2
(Ps 44:8) In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
The following verses mention things that happen in very difficult times. Verse eight indicates that the psalm speaks of troubles of people who worship the Lord. No cause is given for these troubles. This is unlike to the troubles related to the Babylonian exile, which were caused by sins, as stated plainly in various Scripture passages. Therefore, we can conclude that the following verses describe times of severe persecution rather than circumstances related to the Babylonian exile.
(Ps 44:9)ASV But now thou hast cast us off, and brought us to dishonor, And goest not forth with our hosts.
(Ps 44:10) Thou makest us to turn back from the adversary; And they that hate us take spoil for themselves.
Considering the Hebrew word translated "hosts", we could note that it denotes "multitudes". It is the word used in the common phrase "LORD of hosts". The word denotes multitudes from the nations of the world in Jer 3:19. It denotes multitudes of women announcing deliverance in Ps 68:11 (68:12). (About Ps 68:11 (68:12), the feminine gender of המבשרות indicates that those announcing deliverance are women.) The singular form of the word has also been used to denote what has been created on earth and in heaven (Ge 2:1); it is also used for the multitude of heavenly beings, as in 1Ki 22:19. In military contexts, the word refers to armies, such as in Ps 60:10 (60:12) and Ps 108:11 (108:12). Now, in Ps 44:9 the context is not military, so the word must refer to multitudes of believers scattered by persecution (Ps 44:11).
The Hebrew text uses the verb כלם in the phrase "brought us to dishonor". Looking up the word in lexicons, the word is defined with meanings such as "to insult, shame, humiliate, disgrace, ... be put to shame, ... ". Other Hebrew verbs, namely בוש and חפר, have been used to indicate that a person is ashamed of something that he has done, as in Is 1:29; the verb בוש has also been used to indicate shame caused by disappointment, as in Jer 2:36 and Is 49:23. Thus, Ps 44:9 does not speak about shame caused by sins or shame coming from disappointment, but about being insulted and humiliated. This should not be surprising, given that the psalm is about believers who have been faithful to the Lord. Moreover, those who wait for the Lord will not be disappointed, for " ... they shall not be ashamed that wait for me" (Is 49:23). The Scripture guarantees troubles for believers. The fact that they have to wait (Is 49:23) is itself an indication that the Lord does not always answer right away. For this reason, circumstances such as in Ps 44:10 are possible. For instance, we read of plundered believers in Heb 10:34: "you received the plunder of your possessions with joy, knowing that you have for yourselves a better and enduring possession in heaven"EMTV. However, as exemplified in Heb 10:34, persecuted believers should have a good attitude. "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified" (1Pt 4:14). "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Mt 5:11-12).
(Ps 44:11)MKJV You have given us like sheep for food, and have scattered us among the nations.
The verse above may remind us of Ro 8:36, which makes a reference to Ps 44:22. An instance in which the believers were scattered was after the death of Stephen. " ... at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria ... " (Ac 8:1). "Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch ... " (Ac 11:19).
(Ps 44:12)NKJV You sell Your people for next to nothing,
And are not enriched by selling them.
(Ps 44:13) You make us a reproach to our neighbors,
A scorn and a derision to those all around us.
(Ps 44:14) You make us a byword among the nations,
A shaking of the head among the peoples.
(Mk 13:13) And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
(Ps 44:15) My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,
A more literal translation of "My confusion is continually before me" is "My disgrace is all the day before me". The Hebrew phrase describing shame of face is applied elsewhere to Israelites during the exile (Dan 9:7, 8) and the circumstances that followed (Ezr 9:7), and also to the king of Assyria after his disastrous attempt to conquer Judah (2Ch 32:21).
(Ps 44:16) For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.
The Hebrew verb translated "blasphemeth" is often interpreted with the meaning "to revile" in this passage. However, in all other passages in which the verb is used, the verb appears in the context of one blaspheming God.
We read of "the enemy and avenger" also in Ps 8:2. The enemy is also an avenger because he avenges sins. As an accuser (Rev 12:10), he takes advantage of sins in order to bring trouble on those who have committed them. "His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins" (Pr 5:22).
Now, Ps 44 is about faithful people who are persecuted. The fact that the psalm is about faithful people can be seen from verse 18.
(Ps 44:18) Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
Perseverance in times of hardship is a sign of salvation: "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Mk 13:13). "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end" (Heb 3:14).
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