WHERE WERE YOU, LORD?
Lord, help me when Your presence seems fleeting.
Read Psalm 44
For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil.[b]
1 We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
2 With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.
4 You are my King and my God,
who decrees[c] victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
6 I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
7 but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.[d]
9 But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.
13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
15 I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
17 All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
18 Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21 would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26 Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.
a Psalm 44:1 In Hebrew texts 44:1-26 is numbered 44:2-27.
b Psalm 44:1 Title: Probably a literary or musical term
c Psalm 44:4 Septuagint, Aquila and Syriac; Hebrew King, O God; / command
d Psalm 44:8 The Hebrew has Selah (a word of uncertain meaning) here.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThis psalm gives us permission to ask God our hard questions. Think for a few moments of yours.
It’s an insecure Christianity that feels it must be polite with the Almighty. It’s a healthy and secure relationship that allows this psalm to be so real.
There is no false piety here, rushing to an acceptable “answer” as an alternative to facing and feeling the mess. Before responses can ever help, the raw reality has to be expressed. “Lord, we trusted you on good evidence that you provided. Now we’re staring at death all day long. This is the pits.” (If that resonates, stop reading now. Speak it out to God.)
There is a response from God, in Romans 8:31–39, where verse 22 is quoted. It’s not a rebuke for complaining: God won’t slap you down. Nor is it a dazzlingly clever “explanation,” for life is not an exercise in apologetics. God’s response is that the really vital thing—that you are inseparable from his forever-love—is unaltered.
Feeling like a lamb led to the slaughter, at work, in your family or (you’d be surprised at how common this is) in your church? Facing death all day long? Jesus has conquered death for you. The very worst that people can do can’t separate you from his love.
If it feels like God is not there, tell him exactly how that feels. It’s safe. His vast love for you means he’s not offended. He knows anyway; but it’s a sign of trust that you can tell him.
Lord, help me to remember that nothing can “separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).