For the music director; by the Korahites, a well-written song. 2
our ancestors 4 have told us
what you did 5 in their days,
in ancient times. 6
and they did not prevail by their strength, 13
for you were partial to 17 them.
44:6 For I do not trust in my bow,
and I do not prevail by my sword.
you humiliate 27 those who hate us.
44:8 In God I boast all day long,
and we will continually give thanks to your name. (Selah)
You did not go into battle with our armies. 29
Those who hate us take whatever they want from us. 31
you scattered us among the nations.
you did not ask a high price for them. 35
those who live on our borders taunt and insult us. 37
foreigners treat us with contempt. 40
and am overwhelmed with shame, 42
44:16 before the vindictive enemy
who ridicules and insults me. 43
or violated your covenant with us. 45
nor have we disobeyed your commands. 47
you have covered us with darkness. 49
and spread out our hands in prayer to another god, 51
44:21 would not God discover it,
44:23 Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?
Wake up! 57 Do not reject us forever!
44:25 For we lie in the dirt,
with our bellies pressed to the ground. 61
44:26 Rise up and help us!
Rescue us 62 because of your loyal love!
[44:1] 1 sn Psalm 44. The speakers in this psalm (the worshiping community within the nation Israel) were disappointed with God. The psalm begins on a positive note, praising God for leading Israel to past military victories. Verses 1-8 appear to be a song of confidence and petition which the people recited prior to battle. But suddenly the mood changes as the nation laments a recent defeat. The stark contrast between the present and the past only heightens the nation’s confusion. Israel trusted in God for victory, but the Lord rejected them and allowed them to be humiliated in battle. If Israel had been unfaithful to God, their defeat would make sense, but the nation was loyal to the Lord. Comparing the Lord to a careless shepherd, the nation urges God to wake up and to extend his compassion to his suffering people.
[44:2] 9 tn The verb form in the Hebrew text is a Hiphil preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive) from רָעַע (ra’a’, “be evil; be bad”). If retained it apparently means, “you injured; harmed.” Some prefer to derive the verb from רָעַע (“break”; cf. NEB “breaking up the peoples”), in which case the form must be revocalized as Qal (since this verb is unattested in the Hiphil).
[44:2] 11 tn Heb “and you sent them out.” The translation assumes that the third masculine plural pronoun “them” refers to the fathers (v. 1), as in the preceding parallel line. See Ps 80:11, where Israel, likened to a vine, “spreads out” its tendrils to the west and east. Another option is to take the “peoples” as the referent of the pronoun and translate, “and you sent them away,” though this does not provide as tight a parallel with the corresponding line.
[44:3] 16 tn Heb “light of your face.” The idiom “light of your face” probably refers to a smile (see Eccl 8:1), which in turn suggests favor and blessing (see Num 6:25; Pss 4:6; 31:16; 67:1; 80:3, 7, 19; 89:15; Dan 9:17).
[44:4] 18 sn The speaker changes here to an individual, perhaps the worship leader or the king. The oscillation between singular (vv. 4, 6) and plural (vv. 1-3, 5, 7-8) in vv. 1-8 may reflect an antiphonal ceremony.
[44:4] 19 tc The LXX assumes a participle here (מְצַוֶּה [mÿtsavveh], “the one who commands/decrees”) which would stand in apposition to “my God.” It is possible that the MT, which has the imperative (צַוֵּה, tsavveh) form, has suffered haplography of the letter mem (ם). Note that the preceding word (אֱלֹהִים, ’elohim) ends in mem. Another option is that the MT is divided in the wrong place; perhaps one could move the final mem from אֱלֹהִים to the beginning of the next word and read מְצַוֶּה אֱלֹהָי (’elohay mÿtsavveh, “[You are my king,] my God, the one who decrees”).
[44:4] tn Or “command.” This may be the Israelites’ petition prior to the battle. See the introductory note to the psalm.
[44:5] 22 tn Heb “gore” (like an ox). If this portion of the psalm contains the song of confidence/petition the Israelites recited prior to battle, then the imperfects here and in the next line may express their expectation of victory. Another option is that the imperfects function in an emphatic generalizing manner. In this case one might translate, “you [always] drive back…you [always] trample down.”
[44:5] sn The Hebrew verb translated “drive back” is literally “gore”; the imagery is that of a powerful wild ox that “gores” its enemies and tramples them underfoot.
[44:5] 23 tn Heb “in your name.” The
[44:17] 44 tn Heb “we have not forgotten you.” To “forget” God refers here to worshiping false gods and thereby refusing to recognize his sovereignty (see v. 20, as well as Deut 8:19; Judg 3:7; 1 Sam 12:9; Isa 17:10; Jer 3:21; Ps 9:17).Thus the translation “we have not rejected you” has been used.
[44:18] 47 tn Heb “and our steps did [not] turn aside from your path.” The negative particle is understood by ellipsis (see the preceding line). God’s “path” refers to his commands, i.e., the moral pathway he has prescribed for the psalmist. See Pss 17:5; 25:4.
[44:19] 49 tn The Hebrew term צַלְמָוֶת (tsalmavet) has traditionally been understood as a compound noun meaning “shadow of death” (צֵל+מָוֶת [mavet + tsel]; see BDB 853 s.v. צַלְמָוֶת; cf. NASB). Other scholars prefer to vocalize the form צַלְמוּת (tsalmut) and understand it as an abstract noun (from the root צלם) meaning “darkness” (cf. NIV, NRSV). An examination of the word’s usage favors the latter derivation. It is frequently associated with darkness/night and contrasted with light/morning (see Job 3:5; 10:21-22; 12:22; 24:17; 28:3; 34:22; Ps 107:10, 14; Isa 9:1; Jer 13:16; Amos 5:8). In some cases the darkness described is associated with the realm of death (Job 10:21-22; 38:17), but this is a metaphorical application of the word and does not reflect its inherent meaning. In Ps 44:19 darkness symbolizes defeat and humiliation.
[44:20] 50 tn Heb “If we had forgotten the name of our God.” To “forget the name” here refers to rejecting the
[44:20] 51 tn Heb “and spread out your hands to another god.” Spreading out the hands was a prayer gesture (see Exod 9:29, 33; 1 Kgs 8:22, 38; 2 Chr 6:12-13, 29; Ezra 9:15; Job 11:13; Isa 1:15). In its most fundamental sense זר (“another; foreign; strange”) refers to something that is outside one’s circle, often making association with it inappropriate. A “strange” god is an alien deity, an “outside god” (see L. A. Snijders, TDOT 4:54-55).
[44:21] 53 tn Heb “would not God search out this, for he knows the hidden things of [the] heart?” The expression “search out” is used metonymically here, referring to discovery, the intended effect of a search. The “heart” (i.e., mind) is here viewed as the seat of one’s thoughts. The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Of course he would!” The point seems to be this: There is no way the Israelites who are the speakers in the psalm would reject God and turn to another god, for the omniscient God would easily discover such a sin.
[44:22] 54 tn The statement “because of you” (1) may simply indicate that God is the cause of the Israelites’ defeat (see vv. 9-14, where the nation’s situation is attributed directly to God’s activity, and cf. NEB, NRSV), or (2) it may suggest they suffer because of their allegiance to God (see Ps 69:7 and Jer 15:15). In this case one should translate, “for your sake” (cf. NASB, NIV). The citation of this verse in Rom 8:36 follows the LXX (Ps 43:23 LXX), where the Greek term ἕνεκεν (Jeneken; LXX ἕνεκα) may likewise mean “because of” or “for the sake of” (BDAG 334 s.v. ἕνεκα 1).