Psalm 44: Arise, Be Our Help
This psalm is a prayer psalm lamenting a battle defeat. The people have been killed, despoiled, and dispersed (vv. 44:10-11, 19, 22). The survivors feel humiliated (vv. 13-16) and downcast (v. 25). The nation of Israel is calling out to God for rescue. Some have thought it to be a psalm of the exile period or even afterwards in the days of the Maccabees. Yet there is reason enough to keep this psalm in the days of Israel’s monarchy.
Israel often basked in the thrill of victory as God fought for them and displayed His wonderful power on their behalf. However, there were other times when God let them taste the agony of defeat and this was one of those occasions. This is another situation where we learn that if we live faithfully for God, we can expect to be victorious in our battles. But if we fail to live faithfully the Lord will allow us to be defeated and suffer consequences. When we suffer a crushing failure or defeat, it is easy to feel rejected by God.
Israel remembered how God had helped them in the past:
- He defeated all enemies and planted the ancestors of faith in the promised land (a symbol of heaven) (v. 2).
- He was the victor who won the promised land (v. 3).
We must give God the credit for every victory and blessing that comes our way. Although we may fight and labor, it is God who makes us successful.
Israel then declared their confidence in God (v. 4-8) and in His ability to give them victory. Read what Paul wrote to us:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Eph. 6:10-13).
Notice that Israel did not depend on their bows and swords to give them victory over their enemies (v. 6). We cannot rely on our own resources in our battles either. God has given us two spiritual weapons: His mighty Word and Prayer (Eph. 6:17-18). We must remember that our strength is always in Him.
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthened me” (Phil. 4:13).
“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim. 4:18).
Learn to tell God how you feel when defeated for two reasons: 1) The enemy has defeated you and, 2) you are suffering and are filled with anguish. We need to realize that regardless of how bad we are hurting we can poor out our hearts to God.
“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
“Be careful about nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
From verses 23-26 we learn that we should keep asking God to deliver us. We should never give up hope. The psalm ends with the people of Israel having no answers to their questions. We must learn to trust God and His precious Word when we may not have any answers to our problems either. In such times, we need to claim the words of the afflicted Job as our own: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Remember the magnificent promise Paul stated in Romans 8:35-39:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”