Redemption Remembered in Present Dishonor
To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah.
1 We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, the deeds You did in their days, in days of old: 2 You drove out the nations with Your hand, but them You planted; You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out. 3 For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, because You favored them. 4 You are my King, O God; command victories for Jacob. 5 Through You we will push down our enemies; through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. 6 For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me. 7 But You have saved us from our enemies, and have put to shame those who hated us. 8 In God we boast all day long, and praise Your name forever. Selah
9 But You have cast us off and put us to shame, and You do not go out with our armies. 10 You make us turn back from the enemy, and those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves. 11 You have given us up like sheep intended for food, and have scattered us among the nations. 12 You sell Your people for next to nothing, and are not enriched by selling them. 13 You make us a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to those all around us. 14 You make us a byword among the nations, a shaking of the head among the peoples. 15 My dishonor is continually before me, and the shame of my face has covered me, 16 Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles, because of the enemy and the avenger.
17 All this has come upon us; but we have not forgotten You, nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant. 18 Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from Your way; 19 but You have severely broken us in the place of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death. 20 If we had forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a foreign god, 21 would not God search this out? For He knows the secrets of the heart. 22 Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
23 Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord? Arise! Do not cast us off forever. 24 Why do You hide Your face, and forget our affliction and our oppression? 25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our body clings to the ground. 26 Arise for our help, and redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.
The following commentary is from Warren W. Wiersbe’s book, BE Worshipful.
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)……Although Israel finally won great victories over their enemies, there must have been some defeats along the way that greatly disturbed the people. After all, Jehovah was their King (v. 4) and had enabled Israel to conquer the land; so why would He desert His people as they sought to protect their inheritance?…..The four stanzas that make up this psalm reveal four different attitudes on the part of the people.
1. 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)……God had rooted out the godless nations, planted Israel in the land, and enabled the nation to take root and grow (80:8-11; Ex. 15:17; Isa. 5). All of this was done, not because Israel deserved it, but because of God’s love and grace (Deut. 4:34-37……) God’s power gave the victory, and His countenance smiled upon His people (4:6……). The psalmist affirmed that Jehovah was still their King (v. 4…) 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.
2. 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 not forsaking them and allowing the idolatrous nations to win the victories?…..Israel was God’s precious flock (74:1;….), but He was permitting them to be slaughtered by the enemy and treated as worthless (Judg. 2:14;…..)……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. (See 42:10;…) Dishonor and disgrace brought the people to the place of submission and intercession.
3. Faithful to God: “You Should Help Us” (17-22). Whenever there was trouble in Israel, the first explanation was usually “Somebody has sinned. ” Certainly this was true when Israel was defeated at Ai (Josh. 7), when there was a three-year famine in David’s time (2 Sam. 21), and when David numbered the people (2 Sam. 24). But as far as the psalmist knew, there was no sin to be confessed because the people were faithful to the Lord……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……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. Like the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 6:9-8:3), Israel’s defeat gave their enemies further opportunity to come to know the Lord. Saul of Tarsus was greatly moved by Stephen’s death (Acts 22:17-21), and this undoubtedly helped to prepare him for his meeting with Christ on the Damascus road. 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).
4. Trusting in God: “You Will Help Us” (vv. 23-26)……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……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”. 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).
I wish all of you a very blessed day.