Psalm 44 : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

I have a slight inquietude about this psalm; I understand that the jew people were going through very difficult times when it was written, so this context could be it's justification, but there's something I don't understand; this writer (almost sure it was not David) was "inspired" by the Holy Spirit so when he says that they haven't done anything to deserve all that (verses 17, 18 and 20) I must believe he's telling the truth; but that puts God (according to him) in a bewildering situation: verses 10-12.

From Romans 8,28-39 I would conclude that Paul doesn't agree that those things are caused by God; when Paul says "For your sake" it sounds very different than those same words in the psalm.

Any help would be really appreciated.

In the Love of Jesus.

-- Cristian (, September 30, 2002



Do not let your heart be troubled by Psalm 44, Cristian. Your difficulty is being caused by a misunderstanding.

As you know, the psalm begins with a group of verses in which God is praised for exalting and protecting his Israelite people. The last verse of this section is: "In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to thy name for ever."

As you stated, the psalm ends with the author affirming the faithfulness of the people and begging God to help them, since they are in great difficulty. Here are some of those verses (15-26):
"All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face, at the words of the taunters and revilers, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger. All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten thee, or been false to thy covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from thy way ... [F]or thy sake we are slain all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Rouse thyself! Why sleepest thou, O Lord? Awake! Do not cast us off for ever! Why dost thou hide thy face? Why dost thou forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our body cleaves to the ground. Rise up, come to our help! Deliver us for the sake of thy steadfast love!"

Cristian, your difficulty lies in the intervening verses (9-14), which seem to be blaming God for deserting or harming his own people:
"Yet thou hast cast us off and abased us, and hast not gone out with our armies. Thou hast made us turn back from the foe; and our enemies have gotten spoil. Thou hast made us like sheep for slaughter, and hast scattered us among the nations. Thou hast sold thy people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them. Thou hast made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those about us. Thou hast made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples."

Don't worry, Cristian. The Psalm was surely inspired by the Holy Spirit and therefore contains no error. A problem only arises if we take the words of verses 9-14 literally. Throughout the Bible -- more often in the Old Testament than the New -- the authors use what is called the "language of appearance." What seems to be true is often recorded in straightforward language, and we have to consider whether or not it needs to be "translated" into the "language of reality." We still use the "language of appearance" in our modern era, saying such things as "The sun goes down in the West" and "I have a frog in my throat" and "She could hear the ocean in the conch shell."

Verses 9-14 of Ps. 44 are in the "language of appearance." It seemed to the psalmist [even as it seems to some of us at times] that God himself had abandoned his people and had inflicted servitude and other pain on them. But just as we know that the sun does not really "go down," that we have no amphibians inside us, and that a shell cannot hold the sea -- so we know that God could not abandon his chosen people and could inflict no unjust punishment on them. Rather it was Israel's enemies that caused all the pain, while God only allowed those enemies to exercise their free will against Israel. God's permissive will, not his ordaining will, was exercised when he did not immediately intervene to halt Israel's enemies.

Even the closing verses of the Psalm use the "language of appearance." They speak of God as sleeping, hiding, forgetting -- all of which God cannot do, but sometimes seems to us to do, because it is hard for us not to think in these human terms.

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, October 01, 2002.

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