Bible Commentaries
Psalms 44

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2981. B.C. 1023.

This is the third of those Psalms called MASCHIL, and the second of those directed to the sons of Korah; but it does not seem to have been composed by David, as the two foregoing were. For, in his days, the Israelites were not oppressed by foreign enemies, as the psalmist here complains, in the name of the whole church, they were to such a degree that some of them were made slaves, others killed, and all of them become a reproach. “Yet I do not think,” says Bishop Patrick, “it was composed in the captivity of Babylon, but before that time, though long after David’s days; while their kingdom was as yet standing, and they had some forces remaining, though God did not bless them with success,” 9. He goes on to give it as his opinion, that it was composed in the days of Hezekiah; who was a pious reformer of the Jewish Church, and yet, notwithstanding, was invaded by the king of Assyria, which calamity, he thinks, is alluded to in this Psalm. That good king himself, or some other divinely- inspired person, might be the penman of it. But whoever was its author, the church, or people of God, must be considered as speaking in it. They recount the mercies of God vouchsafed to his servants of old time, Psalms 44:1-3 . Declare their confidence, that they should experience the same favour and help in their present distress, Psalms 44:4-8 . Complain of present troubles, Psalms 44:9-16 . Profess their integrity, and adherence to the worship of God, notwithstanding their seeming desertion, and manifold sufferings, Psalms 44:17-22 . They pray for succour, Psalms 44:23-26 .

Verse 1

Psalms 44:1. We have heard with our ears, &c. “We have been certainly informed, O Lord, by our fathers, and we believe what they have told us, not only concerning the wonderful works thou didst in their times, but in the ages long before them; as our ancestors, who lived in those days, have recorded.” It is a debt which every age owes to posterity, to keep an account of God’s works of wonder, and transmit the knowledge of them to the next generation. As those that went before us told us what God did in their days, we are bound to tell those that come after us what he has done in ours, and let them do the like justice to those that succeed them: thus shall one generation praise his works to another, Psalms 145:4. The fathers to the children shall make known the truth, Isaiah 38:19. And children should diligently attend to what their parents tell them of the wonderful works of God, as that which will be of great use to them; and we may all find, if we make a right use of them, that former experiences of God’s power and goodness are strong supports to faith, and powerful pleas in prayer, when we are in any trouble or distress.

Verses 2-3

Psalms 44:2-3. How thou didst drive out the heathen, &c. The seven nations of the Canaanites out of Canaan, and settled in their stead thy people Israel, whom thou didst transplant thither from Egypt. Didst afflict the people The heathen; and cast them out. They got not the land, &c., by their own sword That is, by their arms or valour. But thy right hand, &c ., and the light of thy countenance Thy favour, as the next words explain it; thy gracious and glorious presence, which went along with them. The many complete victories which Israel obtained over the Canaanites, under the command of Joshua, were not to be attributed to themselves; nor could they claim the glory of them. They were neither owing to their own merit nor their own light, but to God’s favour and power engaged for them; without which all their own efforts and endeavours would have been fruitless.

Verses 4-8

Psalms 44:4-8. Thou art my king, O God And thou, O God, who didst such astonishing things for them, art still the very same almighty Being, whom I honour as my sovereign, my governor, and protector. The whole people speak as one man, being united together in one body. Command That is, effectually procure by thy commanding word, deliverances for Jacob For the posterity of Jacob, the Israelites. Through thee will we push down our enemies Hebrew, ננגח , nenaggeeach, cornu feriemus, we will smite with the horn, that is, subdue and destroy them. The phrase is taken from Deuteronomy 33:17, and alludes to cattle pushing with their horns. As if he had said, If thou wouldst but appear for us, the most powerful enemies would not be able to stand before us. Through thy name will we tread them under That is, by the help of thy power. I will not trust in my bow I have no confidence in my arms, but in thee only, (as the next verse implies,) and therefore do not frustrate my hope and expectation, placed only on thee. In God we boast all the day In this we glory continually, that we have such a King, such a mighty Saviour and Deliverer, who has wrought such wonderful things for us and our forefathers.

Verses 9-10

Psalms 44:9-10. But thou hast cast us off Now thy countenance and course are quite changed to us; and hast put us to shame Hast made us ashamed of our boasting and trust in thee, which we have often professed to the face of our enemies. And goest not forth with our armies To lead them and fight for them, as this phrase signifies, Judges 4:14; 1 Samuel 8:20. He seems to allude to God’s marching with and before the Israelites in the wilderness, and afterward as occasion was offered, Psalms 68:7. Thou makest us to turn back We have lost the courage wherewith thou didst formerly inspire us, and cannot defend our cities and fortresses. For, according to thy threatening, (Leviticus 26:36,) thou hast sent a faintness into our hearts in the land of our enemies. And they which hate us spoil for themselves Plunder our camps, and take our estates, and other property for their own use; and that not with a view to comply with thy will, which was to punish us for our sins, nor for thy service and glory. They mind nothing but their own advantage.

Verses 11-14

Psalms 44:11-14. Thou hast given us like sheep, &c. Some of us they killed in the pursuit, without any mercy, like sheep appointed for the shambles. And hast scattered us among the heathen Those of us who were not slain have been carried into captivity, and dispersed in several places. Thou sellest thy people for naught Sufferest them to be sold for slaves at very inconsiderable prices. The expression implies the low esteem in which they were with God. And dost not increase thy wealth by their price “We are thus sadly handled, without the comfort of bringing in any honour to thee by our calamities; since thy church among us is defaced, and no other people taken instead of us, by whom thy name may be glorified.” Hammond. Or, as Poole interprets the words, “Thou hast not advanced thy honour and service thereby; for thy enemies do not serve thee more than thy people, nor yet so much.” Thou makest us a scorn and derision, &c. They contemn our persons, and sport themselves with our miseries. Thou makest us a by-word Or a proverb, as משׁל , mashal, signifies. Thou hast brought upon us the curse pronounced by thy servant Moses, Deuteronomy 28:37. For we are become a by-word among the heathen, who, when they would express the wretchedness of any person, say, He is viler or more miserable than a Jew. A shaking of the head When they say nothing, they signify their contempt and derision of us, by the scornful motion of their heads.

Verses 15-16

Psalms 44:15-16. My confusion is continually before me I cannot open my eyes but the tokens of our disgrace present themselves before me; and the shame of my face hath covered me These things have made me so ashamed, that I do not willingly show my face. For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth I can hear nothing but reproachful words against us, and blasphemous words against thee and thy religion, for our sakes; which is intolerable to me; by reason of the enemy and avenger That insolent enemy, whose very countenance is full of disdain and scorn, and threatens further mischief to us, as being the executioner, both of thy vengeance and his own upon us, and who persecutes us with despiteful hatred and great cruelty.

Verses 17-18

Psalms 44:17-18. All this is come upon us All the evils before mentioned, and certainly we have deserved them all; yet have we not forgotten thee Although we cannot excuse ourselves from many other sins, for which thou hast justly punished us, yet, through thy grace, we have kept ourselves from apostacy and idolatry, notwithstanding all examples and provocations. Our heart is not turned back Namely, from thee, or thy worship and service, unto idols, as it follows, Psalms 44:20. But we still adhere to thy religion, although both it and we be thus vilified and persecuted.

Verses 19-21

Psalms 44:19-21. Thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons By inflicting upon us one breach after another, thou hast at last brought us to this pass; that we are become like a place extremely desolate, such as dragons love, (Isaiah 13:21-22,) and therefore full of horror and danger; and covered us with the shadow of death With deadly horrors and miseries. If we have forgotten the name of God That is, God himself, or his worship and service; or stretched out our hands to strange gods In the way of prayer or adoration. Shall not God search this out? We appeal to the heart-searching God, concerning the sincerity of this our profession.

Verse 22

Psalms 44:22. Yea, or but, for thy sake we are killed all the day We do not suffer for our apostacy, but because we will not apostatize from thee. We are persecuted and put to death because we are thy people, and continue constantly and resolutely in the profession and practice of thy worship, which they abhor, and from which they seek to draw or drive us. It is well known that the Jews were exposed to a variety of evils from their conquerors, on account of their strict adherence to the Mosaic law. And it is well observed by a learned writer, “that as this and the like passages of this Psalm may be applied primarily to the persecuted Jews; so do they, in a secondary sense, refer to suffering Christians, and their persecutions from heathen and unbelieving adversaries; and, accordingly, St. Paul so accommodates the present verse, Romans 8:36.”

Verses 24-25

Psalms 44:24-25. Wherefore hidest thou thy face? Dost not regard our miseries, nor afford us any pity or help? and forgettest our affliction Actest as if thou didst forget, or overlook it, when we have not forgotten thee? Does this become thy faithfulness and goodness? For our soul is bowed down to the dust Under prevailing grief and fear. We lie prostrate at our enemies’ feet. Our belly cleaveth unto the earth We are not only thrown down to the earth, but we lie there. We cannot lift up ourselves, neither revive our own drooping spirits, nor recover ourselves out of our low and sad condition. And we lie exposed to be trodden on by every insulting foe.

Verse 26

Psalms 44:26. Arise, &c., redeem us for thy mercies’ sake For though we are conscious of being sincere and constant in thy worship and service, we know our obedience and duties have been attended with so many imperfections, that we cannot lay them as the ground of our trust and confidence, as if we merited thy help or deliverance by them, but we implore and expect these blessings only upon account of thy own free and rich mercy.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 44". Benson's Commentary. 1857.