Faith in the Midst of Crisis: Psalm 44

October 13, 2023

Psalm 44 provides a poignant reflection on the relationship between God and His people, particularly during times of adversity. When contextualized within the contemporary conflict between Israel and Hamas, this Psalm emerges as a profound lamentation, mirroring the sentiments of a nation beleaguered by hostility yet anchored in faith.

The initial verses of the psalm recall the triumphant stories of old, tales of God’s intervention on behalf of His chosen people. The verses sing praises to a divine force that shaped the destiny of a nation: “We have heard, O God, our fathers have told us the deeds You performed in their time, in days of old.” These verses resonate with the historical narrative of Israel—a people who believe deeply in divine providence and intervention. Just as Israel’s forefathers relied on divine intervention during their struggles, the modern state hopes for the same protection and guidance.

Yet, as the psalm unfolds, a tone of desolation emerges. Verses like “Yet You have rejected and disgraced us; You do not go with our armies” and “You make us retreat before our foe; our enemies plunder us at will” resonate with the feelings of abandonment and vulnerability that many Israelis might feel during this tumultuous time. The Psalmist’s lamentation encapsulates the distress of a people who feel besieged, mirroring the sentiments of a nation under attack, trying to reconcile their steadfast faith with the apparent silence of the Almighty.

However, even amidst despair, the Psalm showcases a people’s unwavering faith. The lines “All this has come upon us, yet we have not forgotten You, or been false to Your covenant” mirror a resilient spirit that, despite facing adversity, refuses to renounce its faith or values. This steadfastness reflects the resilience of the Israeli people, who, despite facing frequent threats, hold fast to their identity and beliefs.

Towards the end, the Psalmist’s plea, “Rouse Yourself; why do You sleep, O Lord? Awaken, do not reject us forever!” reflects a desperate yearning for divine intervention and protection. These verses encapsulate the collective cry of a nation yearning for peace, security, and an end to hostilities.

Psalm 44 serves as a profound reflection on the challenges faced by a nation and its people, seeking divine protection and intervention amidst adversity. The themes of historical providence, feelings of abandonment, unwavering faith, and desperate pleas for help resonate deeply with Israel’s current situation. It stands as a testament to the enduring relationship between a people and their God, a relationship marked by both moments of divine favor and agonizing trials. As Israel navigates these tumultuous times, Psalm 44 stands as a reminder of the enduring covenant between God and His people.

For the leader. Of the Korahites. A maskil.
We have heard, O God, our fathers have told us the deeds You performed in their time, in days of old.
With Your hand You planted them, displacing nations; You brought misfortune on peoples, and drove them out.
It was not by their sword that they took the land, their arm did not give them victory, but Your right hand, Your arm, and Your goodwill, for You favored them.
You are my king, O God; decree victories for Jacob!
Through You we gore our foes; by Your name we trample our adversaries;
I do not trust in my bow; it is not my sword that gives me victory;
You give us victory over our foes; You thwart those who hate us.
In God we glory at all times, and praise Your name unceasingly. Selah.
Yet You have rejected and disgraced us; You do not go with our armies.
You make us retreat before our foe; our enemies plunder us at will.
You let them devour us like sheep; You disperse us among the nations.
You sell Your people for no fortune, You set no high price on them.
You make us the butt of our neighbors, the scorn and derision of those around us.
You make us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.
I am always aware of my disgrace; I am wholly covered with shame
at the sound of taunting revilers, in the presence of the vengeful foe.
All this has come upon us, yet we have not forgotten You, or been false to Your covenant.
Our hearts have not gone astray, nor have our feet swerved from Your path,
though You cast us, crushed, to where the sea monster is, and covered us over with deepest darkness.
If we forgot the name of our God and spread forth our hands to a foreign god,
God would surely search it out, for He knows the secrets of the heart.
It is for Your sake that we are slain all day long, that we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
Rouse Yourself; why do You sleep, O Lord? Awaken, do not reject us forever!
Why do You hide Your face, ignoring our affliction and distress?
We lie prostrate in the dust; our body clings to the ground.
Arise and help us, redeem us, as befits Your faithfulness.
Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

Shira Schechter

Shira Schechter is the content editor for TheIsraelBible.com and Israel365 Publications. She earned master’s degrees in both Jewish Education and Bible from Yeshiva University. She taught the Hebrew Bible at a high school in New Jersey for eight years before making Aliyah with her family in 2013. Shira joined the Israel365 staff shortly after moving to Israel and contributed significantly to the development and publication of The Israel Bible.

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