Psalm 44 challenges God’s trustworthiness. The Psalmist begins “our ancestors have told us of the deeds that You did in their days, in the days of yore” and then echoes phrases from the Bible that describe God’s power of deliverance. “And yet” (literally “af” for the Hebrew transition) the Psalm describes national suffering despite Israel’s faithfulness to God’s covenant. This Psalm concludes with a challenge: “Awake! Why do You sleep…Why do You hide your face? (Verses 24 and 25). Only the last word of the Psalm- chasdecha- Your kindness- points toward hope. The in-between contains some mighty accusations: “You sold Your people for no wealth and set no high price upon them” (v. 13)…”For your sake, we are killed all day long; we are counted as sheep for slaughter.” These words would echo across Jewish history as pleas and challenges by martyrs.
I heard a preacher on TV this Sunday morning, presenting a pair of lines from Psalms that spoke of God’s rewards for the faithful. I paused to consider how much more nuanced and challenging is the larger and more diverse emotions conveyed in Psalms. So I close with the words of Craig Broyles, a contemporary Canadian professor of Bible studies, commenting on this Psalm, “The whole, integrated person, even with one’s embittered feelings, addresses God, not just the acceptable, pious parts of human personality.”