Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ps 44:1-26. In a time of great national distress, probably in David's reign, the Psalmist recounts God's gracious dealings in former times, and the confidence they had learned to repose in Him. After a vivid picture of their calamities, he humbly expostulates against God's apparent forgetfulness, reminding Him of their faithfulness and mourning their heavy sorrows.
1-3. This period is that of the settlement of Canaan (Jos 24:12; Jud 6:3).
have told—or, "related" (compare Ex 10:2).
How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.
2. plantedst them—that is, "our fathers," who are also, from the parallel construction of the last clause, to be regarded as the object of "cast them out," which means—literally, "send" them out, or, "extend them." Heathen and people denote the nations who were driven out to make room for the Israelites.
For 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.
Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.
4. Thou art my King—literally, "he who is my King," sustaining the same covenant relation as to the "fathers."
Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
5. The figure drawn from the habits of the ox.
For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
6-8. God is not only our sole help, but only worthy of praise.
But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
7. put … to shame—(compare Ps 6:10), disgraced.
In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
8. thy name—as in Ps 5:11.
But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.
9. But—contrasting, cast off as abhorrent (Ps 43:2).
goest not forth—literally, "will not go" (2Sa 5:23). In several consecutive verses the leading verb is future, and the following one past (in Hebrew), thus denoting the causes and effects. Thus (Ps 44:10-12), when defeated, spoiling follows; when delivered as sheep, dispersion follows, &c.
Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves.
Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen.
11. The Babylonian captivity not necessarily meant. There were others (compare 1Ki 8:46).
Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.
Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.
13, 14. (Compare De 28:37; Ps 79:4).
Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.
My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,
15. shame of … face—blushes in disgrace.
For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.
16. Its cause, the taunts and presence of malignant enemies (Ps 8:2).
All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.
17-19. They had not apostatized totally—were still God's people.
Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
18. declined—turned aside from God's law.
Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.
19. sore broken—crushed.
place of dragons—desolate, barren, rocky wilderness (Ps 63:10; Isa 13:22),
shadow of death—(Compare Ps 23:4).
If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
20, 21. A solemn appeal to God to witness their constancy.
stretched out … hands—gesture of worship (Ex 9:29; Ps 88:9).
Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
22. Their protracted sufferings as God's people attests the constancy. Paul (Ro 8:36) uses this to describe Christian steadfastness in persecution.
Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
23-26. This style of addressing God, as indifferent, is frequent (Ps 3:7; 9:19; 13:1, &c.). However low their condition, God is appealed to, on the ground, and for the honor, of His mercy.
Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.