|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
44:17-26 In afflictions, we must not seek relief by any sinful compliance; but should continually meditate on the truth, purity, and knowledge of our heart-searching God. Hearts sins and secret sins are known to God, and must be reckoned for. He knows the secret of the heart, therefore judges of the words and actions. While our troubles do not drive us from our duty to God, we should not suffer them to drive us from our comfort in God. Let us take care that prosperity and ease do not render us careless and lukewarm. The church of God cannot be prevailed on by persecution to forget God; the believer's heart does not turn back from God. The Spirit of prophecy had reference to those who suffered unto death, for the testimony of Christ. Observe the pleas used, ver. 25,26. Not their own merit and righteousness, but the poor sinner's pleas. None that belong to Christ shall be cast off, but every one of them shall be saved, and that for ever. The mercy of God, purchased, promised, and constantly flowing forth, and offered to believers, does away every doubt arising from our sins; while we pray in faith, Redeem us for thy mercies' sake.
Verses 23-26. - The appeal to God is now made, after the case has been fully represented. God has always hitherto maintained the cause of his people, and given them victory over their enemies, unless they had fallen away from him (vers. 1-8). Now he has acted otherwise - he has allowed their enemies to triumph (vers. 9-16). And they have given him no reason for his desertion of them (vers. 17-22). Surely, if they call upon him, and plead their cause before him, he will relent, and come to their aid. The appeal, therefore, is made briefly, but in the most moving terms. Verse 23. - Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? The psalmist does not really believe that Jehovah "sleeps." The heathen might so imagine of their gods (1 Kings 18:27), but not an Israelite. An Israelite would be sure that "he that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps" (Psalm 121:4). The writer consciously uses an anthropomorphism, really intending only to call on God to rouse himself from his inaction, and lay it aside, and come to Israel's aid. Arise (see Psalm 7:6; Psalm 9:19; Psalm 10:12, etc.). Cast us not off for ever (comp. ver. 9). Under the existing peril, for God to cast off his people will be to cast them off for ever. They had no strength of their own that could save them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord?.... Not that sleep properly falls upon God: the Keeper of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps; his eyes are always upon his people; he never withdraws them from them, and he watches over them night and day: but sometimes he seems and is thought to be asleep; as when wicked men flourish and triumph over the righteous, and go on in sin with impunity; when their judgment seems to linger, and their damnation to slumber, though it does not; and when the saints are under sore afflictions, and the Lord seems to disregard them, and does not appear for their deliverance; and when things are as when the disciples were in a storm, and Christ was asleep, to whom they said, "carest thou not that we perish?" and the Lord may be said to awake, and it is what is here prayed for, when he stirs up himself and takes vengeance on his enemies, as he will before long on antichrist and his followers; and when he takes in hand the cause and judgment of his people, and pleads it thoroughly, and delivers them out of the hands of all their oppressors, and gives them the dominion and kingdom under the whole heaven; see Isaiah 2:9;
arise; to revenge the blood of his people, and to have mercy on his Zion;
cast us not off for ever; as he might seem to do, by suffering their enemies to triumph over them; but in reality he does not; much less with loathing and abhorrence, as the word (r) used signifies, since his church is his Hephzibah, in whom he delights, Isaiah 62:4; and still less for ever, since his love to them is from everlasting to everlasting, and they shall be for ever with him; See Gill on Psalm 43:2.
(r) "ne abjicias cum fastidio", Gejerus.
The Treasury of David
23 Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
24 Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.
"Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord?" God sleepeth not, but the Psalmist puts it so, as if on no other theory he could explain the divine inaction. He would fain see the great Judge ending oppression and giving peace to the holy, therefore does he cry "Awake;" he cannot understand why the reign of tyranny and the oppression of virtue are permitted, and therefore he enquires, "Why sleepest thou?" Arise. This is all thou needest to do, one move of thine will save us. "Cast us not off for ever." Long enough hast thou deserted us; the terrible effects of thine absence are destroying us; end thou our calamities, and let thine anger be appeased. In persecuting times men are apt to cry, Where is the God of Israel? At the thought of what the saints have endured from their haughty enemies, we join our voices in the great martyr cry, and sing with the bard of Paradise: -
"Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold;
Even those who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshipped stocks and stones.
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep."
"Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our afflictions and our oppression?" Not petulantly, but piteously and enquiringly, we may question the Lord when his dealings are mysterious. We are permitted to order our case with arguments, and plead the right before the face of the august Majesty. Why, Lord, dost thou become oblivious of thy children's woes? This question is far more easily asked than answered; it is hard, indeed, in the midst of persecution to see the reason why we are left to suffer so severely.
Psalm 44:23 Parallel Commentaries
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