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  • Writer's picturePastor Mike

April 05 2023

Today, Wednesday April 5

Only God Can Help Us Now

Psalm 44:1-8

To the Chief Musician. A Maschil (Contemplation) of the sons of Korah

“We have heard with our ears, O God, Our fathers have told us, The deeds You did in their days, In days of old: You drove out the nations with Your hand, But them You planted; You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out. 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.

You are my King, O God; Command victories for Jacob. Through You we will push down our enemies; Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies, And have put to shame those who hated us. In God we boast all day long, And praise Your name forever. Selah”

One of the things that I have enjoyed about these chats on the Book of Psalms is taking the time to research the history or background to each Psalm. In all the years that I’ve read and memorized the Psalms, I never took the time to do look at this aspect of the Psalms. Today we begin looking at a new Psalm. Interestingly, when it comes to Psalm 44, scholars do not agree as to when this psalm was written. Some, like Charles Spurgeon, think it was in the days of David and that he is the most likely writer. Others have assigned it to the days of the Maccabees.

But is also possible that it was written during the Assyrian invasion. The background of the psalm is most certainly one of great national disaster and humiliation. It finds its place alongside others which clearly belong to the days of King Hezekiah. The next Psalm seems to be Hezekiah's wedding song. Then come three Psalms (46, 47, 48) which deal specifically with the Assyrian invasion. We cannot say exactly when the psalm was written, but it appears that the circumstances fit best in the days of King Hezekiah of Judah.

There are several initial items of interest about this psalm. It is ascribed to "the sons of Korah." Korah was a Levite, the grandson of Kohath (founder of one of the three great Levitical families), and the great-grandson of Levi. Kohath perished for raising insurrection against the leadership of Moses and Aaron, but his sons escaped the outpouring of divine wrath and their descendants became outstanding leaders in the worship of Israel. Heman, one of David's three principal musicians, was a descendant of Korah (1 Chronicles 6:31-33); and Heman's sons were leaders of fourteen of the twenty-four courses of temple musicians (1 Chronicles 25:4). The name of Korah in the title strikes at once a note of grace.

We note too that this is a "Maschil" psalm, one especially written to impart instruction. Not only do we need grace, but we need guidance. The psalm has not only a superscription which appears at the beginning. It also has a subscription which tells us that it was assigned to "the chief Musician." In other words, it was intended for public worship. If ever there was a man who needed a note of grace, guidance, and gladness struck for him, it was King Hezekiah in the days when the dreaded Assyrian army was rampaging throughout his land.

The Jewish people sang praises to God after their great victories (Ex. 15; Judges 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?

Preeminently this psalm shows us how to pray for our country. Hezekiah's country was in dire peril. The enemy was all-victorious but in his country's hour of desperate need, Hezekiah prayed. We can be certain he prayed again and again as he saw the foe advancing and God, for some reason, remaining strangely silent and aloof. Perhaps this psalm was used at a national "day of prayer" with a worship leader speaking the "I and my" verses and the people sang the "we and our" verses.

As we look at our own country in its hour of increasing need, let us keep this psalm in mind. It is a useful intercessory psalm for a country in growing peril. A nation, in its hour of need, has only one true hope and that is the prayers of those who know how to lay hold of God and His promises. (Romans 8:31-39)

God bless!

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