Psalm 44 is a congregational Psalm of Lament even though there are few verses that that switch from the 1st person plural to the 1st person singular. It gives a wonderful insight into the Jewish mind at the time:
1. God is known by his acts in the history of Isreal. (vs. 1-3) The language that is used “your right hand, your arm” is Exodus language.
2. Note how Isreal credits God with everything both good (1-8) and not so good (13-16)
3. Note the conflict. One the one hand, Israel claims to have been faithful to God’s covenant (17) but God “crushed us and made us a haunt for the jackals.”(19)
4. There is a familiar verse that is quoted in one of the writings of Paul in this Psalm. Can you identify it?
Psalm 44 has been likened to the Book of Job because it involves an innocent sufferer (Israel) undergoing harsh conditions that are considered to have come from either God’s actions or his indifference.
It truly is a “what-did-we-do-to-deserve-this? lament.”
- Why does the Psalmist (David) assume that bad things should not happen to Israel since Israel has been faithful?
- Several years ago, I asked a theologian friend of mine a question that began: “If God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent then why….” He stopped me in my tracks and asked me: “Why do you speak of God in ways the Bible doesn’t?” What does this Psalm imply about how we might better speak of God than to appeal to philosophical abstractions about God?
- What is the basis of David’s argument with God?
- Why does David switch to the first person singular? (4-6) Or, is his use of the first person singular? How does his personal claim reflect what he says in 1-3?
- What is David’s complaint against God?
- What is David’s petition to God and how is it delivered? How do you feel about how David addresses God? On what basis, does he feel emboldened to speak in God in that way?
- Do you see God as involved in your personal/communal/societal life as David seems to? To what extent do you think God is involved in your life for good or for not-so-good?
- Have you ever felt that God has abandoned you even though you thought you were obeying God? (‘The more faithful I am, the more disinterested God seems to be.”)
- In what ways does the Psalm sound like the Book of Job?