As we move through this worldwide pandemic along with other disasters happening around us, we are unsettled. Nothing is as it was. Nothing, according to us, is as it should be. We rebel against whatever is not our “normal’ while blaming whoever gets in our way of trying to maintain our normal. The pandemic is affecting every part of our being and we are uncomfortable. People are dying, but until it touches our family, we are only pridefully uncomfortable and we complain. We complain about everything in the workplace, at home, and in our church, if we go there. Our comfort level has been tested and we are not happy. When this happens to humans, exhausted by blaming all the humans around them, we then question God. Why isn’t HE doing something about our discomfort and the anxiety it is giving us in our unsettledness?
It could be worse. If we set aside our pandemic complaining for a beat and think about the spreading virus of evil with resulting lostness of souls in our world, our questions might be different. Our perspective may change. We might even begin to humble ourselves and pray for help from the God who saves us!
In our Psalm today, God’s people are being mocked, ridiculed, and beaten for believing in God. They heard stories of better days with God leading them from their elders. They are asking God why He can’t do something about their condition and quality of life now. They are frustrated and fearful. Does that ring true with us today?
PAUSE TO PRAYFULLY CONSIDER…
- Do you sometimes doubt God’s presence? Do you think God is withdrawing His blessing from America, from the World? Explain.
- How might personal tragedy be one of the best things a believer can experience?
Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs
Psalm 44, The Message
1-3 We’ve been hearing about this, God,
all our lives.
Our fathers told us the stories
their fathers told them,
How single-handedly you weeded out the godless
from the fields and planted us,
How you sent those people packing
but gave us a fresh start.
We didn’t fight for this land;
we didn’t work for it—it was a gift!
You gave it, smiling as you gave it,
delighting as you gave it.
4-8 You’re my King, O God—
command victories for Jacob!
With your help we’ll wipe out our enemies,
in your name we’ll stomp them to dust.
I don’t trust in weapons;
my sword won’t save me—
But it’s you, you who saved us from the enemy;
you made those who hate us lose face.
All day we parade God’s praise—
we thank you by name over and over.
9-12 But now you’ve walked off and left us,
you’ve disgraced us and won’t fight for us.
You made us turn tail and run;
those who hate us have cleaned us out.
You delivered us as sheep to the butcher,
you scattered us to the four winds.
You sold your people at a discount—
you made nothing on the sale.
13-16 You made people on the street,
urchins, poke fun and call us names.
You made us a joke among the godless,
a cheap joke among the rabble.
Every day I’m up against it,
my nose rubbed in my shame—
Gossip and ridicule fill the air,
people out to get me crowd the street.
17-19 All this came down on us,
and we’ve done nothing to deserve it.
We never betrayed your Covenant: our hearts
were never false, our feet never left your path.
Do we deserve torture in a den of jackals?
or lockup in a black hole?
20-22 If we had forgotten to pray to our God
or made fools of ourselves with store-bought gods,
Wouldn’t God have figured this out?
We can’t hide things from him.
No, you decided to make us martyrs,
lambs assigned for sacrifice each day.
23-26 Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?
Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us?
Why do you bury your face in the pillow?
Why pretend things are just fine with us?
And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt,
held down with a boot on our necks.
Get up and come to our rescue.
If you love us so much, Help us!
TRUTH: We can’t hide things from God. Be honest before Him.
GOING DEEPER…(With help from Warren Wiersbe, Commentator)
The Jewish people sang praises to God after their great victories (Ex. 15; Judg. 5), but this psalm was sung after a humiliating defeat (vv. 9-14, 22). The four stanzas that make up this psalm reveal four different attitudes on the part of the people. I think we can learn from how they prayed to God in their difficulties and defeat.
- Boasting in God: “You Have Helped Us” (vv. 1-8). Reviewing Israel’s history since the exodus from Egypt, the writer glorified God for all He did to defeat the Canaanite nations and enable Israel to claim their inheritance (v. 8). The Jewish parents were faithful to obey God and tell their children and grandchildren what the Lord had done. God had rooted out the godless nations, planted Israel in the land, and enabled the nation to take root and grow. All of this was done, not because Israel deserved it, but because of God’s love and grace. God’s power gave the victory, and His countenance smiled upon His people. The psalmist affirmed that Jehovah was still their King and could easily command (decree) victories for His people. The nation wanted no glory for itself; they wanted the Lord to receive all the glory.
- Forsaken by God: “You Are Not Helping Us” (vv. 9-16). But the people were perplexed. If God gave them the land in His grace and enabled them to defeat their enemies, why was He now forsaking them and allowing the idolatrous nations to win the victories? Now He seemed to have forsaken His people and abandoned His covenant. Israel was God’s precious flock, but He was permitting them to be slaughtered by the enemy and treated as worthless. Those prisoners of war who weren’t slain were sold as slaves and scattered among the neighboring pagan nations. These nations rejoiced that Israel had been humiliated by defeat, and they taunted and ridiculed the Jews. It was a dark day for the people of God, and they could not understand what the Lord was accomplishing. Dishonor and disgrace brought the people to the place of submission and intercession.
- Faithful to God: “You Should Help Us” (vv. 17-22). Whenever there was trouble in Israel, the first explanation was usually “Somebody has sinned.” But as far as the psalmist knew, there was no sin to be confessed because the people were faithful to the Lord. God could search their minds and hearts and not find any breach of the covenant. They were faithful to God, they had not turned to the idols for help, and now they were giving their lives to protect the land that He had so graciously given them.
Paul quoted verse 11 in Romans 8:36 as part of his magnificent argument that nothing could separate God’s people from His love, not even defeat after a record of victories! The principle is the same for both God’s old covenant people and His new covenant people: Those who give their lives in His cause are conquerors, not victims; and God can be glorified even in seeming defeat.
When the five young men gave their lives in Ecuador to help reach the Auca Indians, many people asked, “Why this waste?” But what looked like terrible defeat turned out to be glorious victory as many young people around the world felt the call of God and surrendered to serve Him. Israel’s defeat didn’t mean that God loved them less; it meant that He was permitting this to happen so that He could carry out a purpose known only to Him.
No matter how their lives may end, God’s servants never die like beasts, for “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (116:15 nkjv), even in a pandemic!
4. Trusting in God: “You Will Help Us” (vv. 23-26). In verse 23, the writer used the name “Adonai” (Lord) when speaking to God. This is the name that declares that He is Owner and Master of all, including the nations of the world. He is “Lord [Adonai] of the whole earth” (97:5), and the earth should tremble “at the presence of the Lord [Adonai]” (114:7).
The psalmist came to the place where he knew he could trust God to handle the defeats of life and ultimately turn them into victories. Yes, it seemed like God was asleep, and the nation had to awaken Him (7:6; 78:65), but “He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (121:4 nkjv). The people of Israel had come to the place that Job reached when he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15).
We can’t always explain the so-called tragedies of life, especially those that happen to God’s people, but Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah gives us wise counsel in 50:10: “Who is among you that fears the Lord that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (nasb). We may look like sheep for the slaughter, but in God’s sight we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).
Proverb 17:16, The Message
“Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”
WISDOM: Stay with God. Through pandemics, hurricanes, and other storms of life, stick close together as believers of God. The glue that holds together and never fails is the love of Jesus who died for all our sins, rose again defeating death, and is now our advocate in heaven who is preparing a “room” for us in God’s House. Our forever home!
We come to you today with gratitude and trust that you know what is best right now. We repent of complaining and blaming. We ask that you forgive our selfish pride and help us to be still and know You are God. You will never leave or forsake us. Your love never changes and your faithfulness is with limits. Your love is unchanging and knows no bounds or conditions. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for saving our souls. Thank you for being with us through floods and famines, pandemics and storms of all kinds. We are more than conquerors because of your love for us. Thank you for teaching us today, giving us more wisdom and insight to live well here while waiting to live with you there.
In Jesus Name, Amen