O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old: you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted;

you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.

You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob!

Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies. You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil. You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations. You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them. You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us. You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples. All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way;  yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.

If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.

Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.

Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground. Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! – Psalm 44

“God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.” These were the words that came from a young crying girl at a prayer tent. Broken and full of loss, at age 14 she had overwhelmed by the death of her uncle, her grandfather, grandmother, one close friend had died, and another had committed suicide all within the past few months. There at a Christian music festival she came to a prayer tent weeping reassuring herself in the midst of all of this, “God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.”

Have you ever simply felt like the world and maybe even God is against you? If you have you are not alone. If you have never felt that way and don’t believe someone should feel that way, it is imperative that you see that holy and god honoring people penned into God’s Word that type of despair.

This type of despair is not something someone should aim for. It is also not something that the psalmists wanted to remain in. That is why they went before the Lord. They knew of Him. They heard of His greatness yet they were utterly baffled by the outcome of what was happening.

This psalm could have been written during the time of king Josiah after the righteous king died on the battle field while the wicked prospered. It could have been written during the time of Hezekiah the righteous king who put the Lord first and yet was still surrounded by His enemies. When it was written is not the point. The purpose is that the faithful people of God desperately wanted to know where their powerful, active, interactive, and constant place of hope was. They were desperately alone, and God was quiet.

Yet, in the midst of despair and the Lord’s apparent slumber they still remembered Him. The psalmist still desperately desired God. Full of obvious frustration they still desperately called out for God to rise from a slumber knowing He does not sleep nor slumber, Psalm 121. Why would they still depend on such a dormant and seemingly inactive God?

What we know about the Lord is fantastic.

O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:  you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free;  for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them. – Psalm 44:1-3

They have heard of the greatness of God. They have even benefited from the works of the Lord. The success of the Lord is tangible to them. Yet, it is only known because someone told them and because they were willing to hear.

We thankfully have the Word of God. We have a legacy of God’s faithfulness unveiled. We can see not only what happened, but we can see what God was doing and often why He did what He did. But, we have to listen. We have to spend time diving into the faithfulness of God as more than a fairy tale.

The testimonies of scripture are real. The slavery, the betrayal, the impending doom, and numerous occasions for complete decimation were not simply hyperbole. The written text that we have today were few and in many cases often unused in contrast to today’s abundance of scripture and its unused.

But, this was not speaking of simply having read of what God did. No, this writer, these communities singing songs were speaking of something more intimate than that. They were speaking of the salvation from their fathers. The parents were sharing what brought them so much joy. The children knew because the parents shared.

The parents shared, and the children listened. I was sitting in the coffee shop the other day and I heard tales of how some guys back in the day happened to utilize a school’s form of public transportation without proper permission. The school bus had its keys in it so why wouldn’t you take it for a spin with your friends.

This is an interesting story, yes, but how much more compelling a story it must be that you were willing to forsake everything else in life for the King. You don’t give up Sunday morning to come to church regularly just because. You don’t follow the Lord with every part of your being simply because. Why? Why do you follow the Lord? Share this fact.

This afternoon call your kid, call your family, contact those closest to you if you have not shared why you love Jesus so desperately that you would sacrifice your very life so that another person might hear and know that He is God. If the name of Jesus is not worth your life, is your life really found in Christ? And, if your life is found in Christ share why it is!

A few months back I was challenged to watch a movie celebrating the USA Hockey team that won the Gold Medal over a seemingly undefeatable Soviet Union. The coach made them do skate sprints again, again, again, again, again as the other coach and doctor looked on at in horror complicit. Until one boy realized why they were skating, he announced his name and what He was skating for the USA.

Do you confidently and adamantly state I have what Have because of the Lord. I am what I am because of the Lord. If anyone asked who you are, would you first state I am who I am because of the Lord, I am the Lord’s. More effectively, would your children first define you by what the Lord has done in your life. Would those closest to you be able to confidently declare, “God I have seen what you did in their life, do that in mine.”

We can and should boast about and give thanks to the Lord forever!

You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob!

Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down those who rise up against us. For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us.  In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

The most remarkable part of this psalm is not simply the lament portion of it. This psalm desperately recognizes the need for the Lord. It is through God’s power and not my own that I have accomplished what I have. More than that it sets the stage to note that any success of failure is resting in the Lord.

The psalmists are not speaking of a future hope of glory. They are not calling out to God for strength to endure to the end. They are recognizing what God has done for them now. God has given them all that they have. They do not rest in their strength, nor have they ever. We should have that same mindset.

God is our salvation. The psalmist refers to his bow and his sword not being able to save us. Yet we often find our support in friends, family, our giftedness in a certain trade, a reputation, or our work-ethic. If I work hard enough I can accomplish whatever I set my mind too. That is the American Dream is it not.

But, the Word of the Lord continually reminds us, our strength is not strong at all.

I have a very important question for you. How often have you called Christ your King this past week? Let me put two simple qualifiers. One church doesn’t count and secondly your personal prayers in private do not either.

If the verses above are true in your life, you have continually praised God as not only King, but your source of success. Putting our despair and desperation on God is one thing, and He welcomes it and encourages us to seek Him as not only a source of strength and refuge in our most difficult times, He shows Himself greater in those moments.

But, how you seek the Lord prior to despair and prior to hardship changes the tone. If your boasting throughout life has not been in the Lord, than this psalm might not be the lament psalm you want to turn to. Try Psalm 51. But, if you have rested your very being, the purpose of who you are in the King of kings, let’s move forward from here.

If this wouldn’t be how you are described there is still time to change. One of the most remarkable things about God is that He cares more about where you are going from this point on then where you have been and how long it took you to get to this point.

We can lose everything and be completely rejected.

But you have rejected us and disgraced us and have not gone out with our armies.

You have made us turn back from the foe, and those who hate us have gotten spoil.

You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations.

You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.

You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.

You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.

All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face at the sound of the taunter and reviler, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.

This part of the psalm is a stark contrast from the beginning portion. But, why is it so significantly different. Is the difference simply because the psalms focus on such parallelism to accentuate and illuminate how drastic the point being made is?

Shall we dare to speak as boldly as the psalmist here. It is because both of these emotions are prevalent in many of us. When the circumstances we have been thrust into and what should simple victories in life turn into disgraceful losses we can feel nothing but brokenness. We rejoice and know that it is by the power of God that we have been successful. But, we also recognize that if our lives are filled with failure, beatings, and the slaughter of those we cherish God is also involved in that.

The psalmist gives credit to God for what has happened to them the good and the bad. And, there was truly a desperate cry of anguish, of confusion, and a more profound moment of realization that it is God doing these things not simply their enemies.

This is true for many of us. The most prevalent reason for people to disbelieve in a good God is this very premise. If God is good than why do I and those I love suffer? If He is the cause of everything than these statements the psalmist state are true. God has sold His people for a trifle they are rejected and disgraced. The God in whom they trusted lead them to be slaughtered.

We can do everything right and still be lead to the slaughter.

All this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way; yet you have broken us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.

If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god, would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart. Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered. – Psalm 44:17-22

This leads into a very important piece of biblical history and the faith of God’s people. The Israelite people, before Christ came and made a new covenant with the world had a special status with the Lord. They were given a clear contract. Obey the Lord, honor His commands, and you will be blessed. Not only will you be blessed you will never be destroyed. The history of the people of Israel was filled with its ups and its downs, but the Israelites were always on the up when they followed the Lord and on their way down when they did not.

So, for the psalmist to make such a grand claim was to announce not only was God attacking them, and questioning His goodness to them, the psalmist was challenging God’s side of the contract.

God, you see me. You see me living for you. An intrinsic part of the psalms is how often the writers ask God to judge them, to ask God to see them, to find if they have done wrong. The psalmist confidently writes how God would have seen any sin, any wrong doing, and since there is none they are declaring that the burden lies with God to act.

This psalm is so rich in its dependence on the Lord. The person of faith is broken, destroyed, and has no reason to continue to trust in the power of God, because God’s power is against them. Yet, the psalmist does not lose faith, they do not lose hope, they still know that God is the only one who has the power to save them.

The greatest testament to our faith is not simply found in trusting in relying on God when things are going well. The question of where our strength is found, is found more amply when there is no strength to be found. No success. When there is no signs of success, a breakthrough, or a way out that is when we find out what our faith in God and His strength really is.

They are waiting, they are relentlessly putting their trust in the Lord. It is for His sake that they are being destroyed. And yet, finally, the people of God cry through with even more desperation.

We can ask where God is!

Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!

Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?

For our soul is bowed down to the dust; our belly clings to the ground.

Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! – Psalm 44:23-26

Now that the psalmist has established its burden and attacks from the Lord, they have established their claim against God’s side of fulfilling the contract, the psalmist moves into another question. If you have not attacked me and if you have not broken your covenant with us (even though we have in the past, and we don’t bring that up, you said you never would forsake us), then why are you not coming to our defense. Are you sleeping.

Do you remember another “god” that was accused of sleeping in the bible? Elijah was challenging the prophets of Baal to a “God off”. If your god is a god than he will stand up for you and show himself to be a god. Meanwhile, the Israelites here in Psalm 44 are on display not for a few prophets and zealots of those who oppose God. No, the psalmist is describing a world looking at the Israelites saying, “Some God you have, he betrays, he lets you be slaughtered, what kind of God and what strength does your God have?”

They have not simply been betrayed by the God they have put their trust in they have not only been lead to the slaughter, they have been forgotten about. They know that God does not sleep nor does He slumber, well then where is He.

The psalmist’s imagery of being made low while desiring God to rise up should not be over looked. The people of God must realize our exultation, our station, who we are should be so intrinsically linked with the Lord that when He rises so do we know.

But, it is not simply for the psalmist’s exultation, no it is ultimately to let the world know who God is. The Lord rising up, or waking up, will inevitably declare to the world that God is God! It is only the Lord who can quiet the scoffers, it only the Lord that can bring honor where disgrace has been. Why? The Lord is the one in whom the writer and in whom we trust.

The success they had was not their own neither was their failure. Whether they succeeded in life or battle was because of the Lord. Whether they lived and breathed or died and went to dust was because of the Lord. Whether they were a disgrace or a statement of honor was because of the Lord.

Their lives were lived for the name of the King. And, since their lives were lived in the name of the King, it was His name that would bear the honor or the disgrace, not just them.

How can you encourage someone or to be encouraged to worship while broken?

The psalms are from real people about real situations and real despair in this case. The community here, the people of God have desperately and soli followed the Lord, yet the Lord has either betrayed them, attacked them, or deserted and forgotten them. Yet, the people of God still cling to the Lord as their source of hope, their salvation.

It is important to realize that this psalm does not have closure. The people of God do not return to their former confidence in the Lord they do not testify about how God has saved them. They do not restate an overwhelming assurance that God will act, they only state that they need Him too.

For many of us as we come alongside the hurting, the desperate, and those at the very end of hope we want to assuredly say everything will be okay (Like Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them. – Psalm 126:6). But, that is not what this psalm is about. This psalm is letting us know it is okay to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).

It is okay to grieve loss. It is okay to grieve pain. It is okay to have sorrow. It is okay to struggle with the situations in your life. It is okay to ask God to act. This psalm basically dares Him to.

Yet, in the midst of these dark moments, they still were able to declare the dependence on Him. So, you can help someone worship God through sorrow and tragedy not by simply giving them a sense of hope, but guiding them to the source of dependence. Who is it that you are relying upon?

Are you relying upon God or are you relying upon…