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1 Samuel 27Don Carson;

1 Corinthians 8; Ezekiel 6; Psalm 44

PSALM 44 IS AN IMPORTANT FOIL for the themes we have been digesting from the prophets. The major prophets keep drawing a tight link between the sins of Israel and the destruction that God inflicted upon them: the people get what they deserve. Of course, we have come across innocent suffering before, especially in Job and in some Psalms. But here in Psalm 44 is the suffering of an innocent nation.

There were defeats and even deportations (Ps. 44:11) before the exile (see Amos 1:69), so we cannot be certain when this psalm was written. Defeat was not unknown even to good kings (e.g., Ps. 60). Here the psalmist begins by reviewing the past. When the nation was called into existence, everything depended on God’s strong intervention: “it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them” (Ps. 44:3). The psalmist is not looking back to national heroes and bemoaning their contemporary absence. He looks back to God’s power in the past, and insists the nation still relies on God (Ps. 44:6-8). So why the disastrous defeats (Ps. 44:9-16)? Unlike the gross sin denounced by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, here fidelity still triumphs: “All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path” (Ps. 44:17-18).

At least two hints toward the end of the psalm, though they do not provide “solutions,” invite the reader to reflect on the direction taken by later biblical writers. (1) Sometimes God’s apparent sleep, his withdrawal (Ps. 44:23ff.), is not overt wrath poured out on our sin, but his own timing. He refuses to be hurried, and his “unfailing love” (Ps. 44:26) will triumph in the end. The ebbs and flows of Christian history support the same stance: they do not always correspond with differing degrees of loyalty or different methods. As one commentator (F. D. Kidner) has finely put it, “Although its picture of the sleeping Lord may seem naive to us, it was acted out in the New Testament, to teach a lesson which we still find relevant: cf. verse 23 with Mark 4:38.” (2) More stunningly, the psalmist says it is “for your sake[that] we face death all day long” (Ps. 44:22, italics added). That point is not fully developed until Paul quotes the verse (Rom. 8:36ff.). But already it embraces the notion that some suffering is not the result of our sin but simply the result of being faithful to God in a world at war with him. In such cases suffering is not a sign of defeat but a badge of fidelity and fellowship, even of victory: we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

Reflections to Consider

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Audio & Video

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  • Christ the King Sunday by Art Going (Holy Trinity Chatham) +

    A thoughtful discussion of how we function as colonizers for Christ the King.  Read More
  • Trinity and Baptisms-David Hyman, Holy Trinity Chatham +

    An excellent discussion of what baptism is about, and the wonderful mystery of the Trinity.  Read More
  • Praying to the Father-David Hyman, Holy Trinity Chatham +

    What does it mean to pray to our Father? Read More
  • Success by David Hyman, Holy Trinity Chatham +

    As followers of Jesus, how should we measure success? Read More
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Hidden Blessings

  • God's Healing Touch by Sylvia Gunter +

    Listen to God's word for you in Isaiah 42:3. "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick Read More
  • The Healing Day by Bill Fay +

    It will be okay on the healing dayno more coldest placeon the healing day Read More
  • Inner Healing by Judith MacNutt +

    The following is a clip from a teaching at the MacNutt's Level I School. While brief, it provides a good Read More
  • Healing Ministry & Spiritual Warfare by Judith MacNutt +

    Judith MacNutt on the relationship between spiritual warfare and healing ministry. Read More
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