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Psalm 44 Study Notes

Ps 44 title On Maskil, see note at Ps 32 title. On sons of Korah, see note at Ps 42 title.

44:1-3 The psalm begins with a review of what the Lord has done for Israel. This is similar to the “wondrous works,” or God’s saving acts on behalf of his people (9:1; Ex 3:20; 15:11). It is clear from the mention of ancestors and days long ago that this refers to an early time, specifically the time of conquest and settlement of the promised land. Being “planted” (80:8; 2Sm 7:10; Jr 11:17; 12:2) is the opposite of being “uprooted” (Dt 29:28) and serves to picture the Lord’s work as a farmer planting something like a tree on his land. The emphasis especially in v. 3 is that it was the Lord’s hand and arm that accomplished this rather than Israel’s weaponry. The combination of hand and arm is used in contexts referring to God’s power displayed in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt (Dt 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2; 26:8).

’emeth

Hebrew pronunciation [eh METH]
CSB translation truth, faithfulness
Uses in Psalms 37
Uses in the OT 127
Focus passage Psalm 43:3

’Emeth, from ’aman (be faithful), chiefly denotes truth (Ex 34:6) but indicates faithfulness in personal relations (Ps 54:5). It connotes integrity (Ps 51:6) and fairness (Pr 29:14). Once it implies promise (Ps 132:11). Adjectivally, it suggests true, truthful (Pr 12:19), faithful, reliable (Ps 19:9), sure (Jos 2:12), and trustworthy (Ex 18:21). It describes right paths (Gn 24:48). With the preposition b (“in”), it implies faithfully or really (Jos 9:16,15). ’Emunah (49x), also from ’aman, mainly means faithfulness (Is 11:5). It connotes faith (Hab 2:4), loyalty (1Sm 26:23), security (Is 33:6), and integrity (2Kg 12:15). It suggests faithful, steady (Ex 17:12), trustworthy (Ps 33:4), and true (Ps 119:86). It appears as fairly (Ps 119:75) and securely (Ps 37:3). With b it implies honestly (Is 59:4), to trusted positions, and entrusted (1Ch 9:22,26). ’Emeth (33x) and ’emunah (11x) frequently appear with chesed (“love, faithful love, kindness”).

44:4 The terms King and Jacob recall the unique covenant relationship that the Lord had with Israel (Dt 33:1-5).

44:5 When the people of Israel were faithful to the Lord, he fought for them (v. 7; see note at 18:7-15). His name represents the Lord himself and is closely aligned with his reputation (see note at 20:1).

44:6-7 Human weaponry is of no use if God is not behind it (see note at 20:7-8).

44:8 Boasting in God is in contrast to boasting in one’s own power or skill (see note at 34:1-3).

44:9-10 This perception is in stark contrast to the Lord’s past acts when he fought for his people (v. 5; cp. 60:10; 108:11).

44:11 The imagery of sheep that were handed over to be eaten is similar to v. 22 where they were “slaughtered.” God was the shepherd of Israel (see note at 23:1), but to the psalmist it seemed he was not protecting his sheep but giving them to other nations to be killed.

44:12 Selling was a common way of describing God giving his people over to the power of their enemies (Dt 32:30; Jdg 2:14; 3:8; 4:2,9; 10:7). It occurs most often in the context of God’s response to Israel’s rebellion against him.

44:13-16 Almost every Hebrew word for ridicule is used in these verses. The word for joke (Hb mashal) expresses the idea of a byword or proverbial saying. The shame of Israel was so extensive and had lasted so long that the nations were using them as the butt of jokes and sayings.

44:17-18 This is a declaration of innocence similar to those of individual lament psalms (Pss 17; 26), but here it expresses the innocence of the nation. The psalmist protested that they had done nothing to deserve this treatment. Turned back is similar to the idea of “turning aside” in reference to the proper path of God. It expresses the idea of rejecting God’s commands (78:57; 119:51; Dt 5:32). The protest that people had not strayed from God’s path is reminiscent of Job’s protest (Jb 23:11) and also of the psalmist in Ps 17:5.

44:19 God had destroyed them and left them among the deserted ruins where only wild animals roam. Deepest darkness is the same Hebrew word as that translated “darkest” in 23:4.

44:20 Spreading out hands was a gesture used in the context of prayer and worship (88:9; 141:2; 143:6; Ex 9:29,33; Ezr 9:5; Is 1:15).

44:21 The secrets of the heart are attitudes and motives. A person’s integrity could be tested by God to determine if he was innocent of false motives (26:2; Jr 12:3).

44:22 Being put to death is “the price of loyalty in a world which is at war with God” (Derek Kidner). This verse is quoted in Rm 8:36.

44:23-26 Wake up calls God to act. Rise up is similar, but with military connotations (see note at 7:6-8). The dust is often used to represent humiliation in defeat at the hands of an enemy (7:5; 72:9; Is 49:23). It could also refer to humility before the Lord either in worship or in prayer (Dt 9:18; 2Ch 20:18).

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