Bible Commentaries
Psalms 44

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary



Psalms 42-83 are Elohistic, i.e. they use the word God (Elohim) and avoid the proper name Yahweh, probably from motives of reverence. Here and there, however, the name Yahweh has crept into the text by a natural slip of the scribes.

Verses 1-26

XLIV. A National Prayer in Unmerited Distress.— The Ps. evidently depicts the situation of Israel under Antiochus Epiphanes [but see OTJC 2 , pp. 207f., 437– 440.— A. S. P.] So much was plain long ago to the Antiochene Fathers and at a later date to Calvin. Antiochus promulgated a decree enforcing unity of worship in his dominions and especially in Palestine. He also polluted the Temple at Jerusalem by heathen sacrifice. He encountered fierce opposition from the Asidæ ans (= Hasidim), led by the Maccabees, and died in 164 B.C. without effecting his purpose (p. 607). This Ps. was written when the cause of the faithful Jews was under a temporary cloud. The following are the chief points which enable us to place it with confidence in Maccabean times. ( a) The Jews have an army of their own, and therefore enjoy some measure of independent government, but at the same time many of their brethren are “ scattered among the nations” ( Psalms 44:11). ( b) Israel suffers, though faithful to its covenant with its God ( Psalms 44:17 f.) . ( c) There is no idolatry among the Jews ( Psalms 44:20). ( d) The Jews are suffering religious persecution for, so far as we know, the first time. They are killed for the sake of their God and their Law. “ For thy sake are we killed all the day long” ( Psalms 44:22). The earlier enemies of Israel and Judah, viz. the Assyrians, Babylonians, and the Greek successors of Alexander down to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, had shown no inclination to interfere with the Jewish religion as such. To what period in the Maccabean age does this Ps. belong? Possibly to the time which followed hard on the defeat and death of Judas Maccabæ us (p. 608). But no certain answer can be given.

Psalms 44:1-3 . God’ s wonderful work in olden days, when He uprooted the peoples of Canaan and planted the Israelites in their place.

Psalms 44:2 . drive out: read, “ root out.”— afflict: read, “ break down.”—“ Thou didst spread them ( i.e. the Israelites) abroad.” The image is that of a tree spreading its branches.

Psalms 44:4-8 . Petition for renewed help: the people of Israel rely on God alone.

Psalms 44:9-16 . The present distress.

Psalms 44:12 b. “ Thou hast not made their price great.” We learn from 1Ma_3:41 that slave-dealers followed the Syrian army to purchase the captive Israelites as slaves.

Psalms 44:14 . The shaking of the head was a gesture of scorn ( cf. Psalms 22:7).

Psalms 44:17-22 . The misery is quite undeserved. The Jews have been faithful to the covenant.

Psalms 44:19 . “ place of jackals,” i.e. in desolate ruins such as jackals haunt.

Psalms 44:23-26 . A renewed cry for Divine help.

Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 44". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.