Psalm 44:20
If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
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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.If we have forgotten the name of our God - That is, if we have apostatized from him.

Or stretched out our hands to a strange god - Or have been guilty of idolatry. The act of stretching out the hands, or spreading forth the hands, was significant of worship or prayer: 1 Kings 8:22; 2 Chronicles 6:12-13; see the notes at Isaiah 1:15. The idea here is, that this was not the cause or reason of their calamities; that if this had occurred, it would have been a sufficient reason for what had taken place; but that no such cause actually existed, and therefore the reason must be found in something else. It was the fact of such calamities having come upon the nation when no such cause existed, that perplexed the author of the psalm, and led to the conclusion in his own mind Psalm 44:22 that these calamities were produced by the malignant designs of the enemies of the true religion, and that, instead of their suffering for their national sins, they were really martyrs in the cause of God, and were suffering for his sake.

20, 21. A solemn appeal to God to witness their constancy.

stretched out … hands—gesture of worship (Ex 9:29; Ps 88:9).

In the place: or rather into, as others render it; which seems much more emphatical. And so this verb may be rendered, thou hast humbled, or brought us down, as all the ancients rendered it. Or this is a pregnant verb, as they call them, or one verb put for two; of which there are many instances, as hath been showed. So it may be rendered, thou hast sore broken us, casting us into; or, thou hast by sore breaking brought us into. By inflicting upon us one breach after another, thou hast at last brought us to this pass. The place of dragons; which signifies a place extremely desolate, such as dragons love, Isaiah 13:21,22 34:13 35:7, and therefore full of horror, and danger, and mischief. Thou hast thrown us among people as fierce and: cruel as dragons. With the shadow of death, i.e. with deadly horrors and miseries. See Poole "Job 3:5"; See Poole "Psalm 23:4".

The name of God, i.e. either God himself; or his worship and service; which we have denied that we have done, Psalm 44:17.

Stretched out our hands, in way of prayer or adoration, whereof this is a gesture, Exodus 9:29 1 Kings 8:22 Psalm 143:6. If we have forgotten the name of our God,.... As antichrist, and the antichristian party did in those times, Daniel 11:36;

or stretched out our hands to a strange god; as not to any of the Heathen deities under the Pagan persecutions, so not to any images of gold, silver, brass, and wood, under the Papal tyranny; not to the Virgin Mary, nor to angels and saints departed; nor to the breaden God in the mass, never heard of before; see Daniel 11:38.

If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a {p} strange god;

(p) They show that they honoured God correctly, because they trusted in him alone.

20. stretched out] R.V., spread forth: the gesture of prayer being not, as with us, folded hands, but the hands extended with open palms: the Lat. ‘manibus passis.’ Cp. Psalm 143:6; 1 Kings 8:22; 1 Kings 8:38; 1 Kings 8:54; Isaiah 1:15.Verse 20. - If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out (rather, spread out) our hands to a strange god. If Israel had either forgotten the true God (see above, ver. 17) or fallen away to the worship of false or strange gods - then her ill success against her foreign enemies would have been fully accounted for, since it would only have been in accordance with the threatenings of the Law (Leviticus 26:14-17; Deuteronomy 28:15-23); but as she had done neither of these things, her defeats and depressed condition seemed to the psalmist wholly unaccountable. We trace here the same current belief, which comes out so strongly in the Book of Job - the belief that calamities were, almost of necessity, punishments for sin; and that when they occurred, and there had been no known precedent misconduct, the case was abnormal and extraordinary. (Heb.: 44:14-17) To this defeat is now also added the shame that springs out of it. A distinction is made between the neighbouring nations, or those countries lying immediately round about Israel (סביבות, as in the exactly similar passage Psalm 79:4, cf. Psalm 80:7, which closely resembles it), and the nations of the earth that dwell farther away from Israel. משׁל is here a jesting, taunting proverb, and one that holds Israel up as an example of a nation undergoing chastisement (vid., Habakkuk 2:6). The shaking of the head is, as in Psalm 22:8, a gesture of malicious astonishment. In נגדּי תּמיד (as in Psalm 38:18) we have both the permanent aspect or look and the perpetual consciousness. Instead of "shame covers my face," the expression is "the shame of my face covers me," i.e., it has overwhelmed my entire inward and outward being (cf. concerning the radical notions of בּושׁ, Psalm 6:11, and חפר, Psalm 34:6). The juxtaposition of "enemy and revengeful man" has its origin in Psalm 8:3. In Psalm 44:17 מקּול and מפּני alternate; the former is used of the impression made by the jeering voice, the other of the impression produced by the enraged mien.
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