Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hope Maketh Not Ashamed

Psalm 44:1-26

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, Maschil.

“We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old.  How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.  For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.” (Psalm 44:1-3)

The Jews knew their history, how that God had repeatedly saved them from their enemies.  He had defeated and driven out the occupants of Canaan.  They had not gained the land through their own power or military skill, but because God acted on their behalf, favoring them over the original inhabitants. 

“Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.  Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.  For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me. But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.  In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah. ” (Psalm 44:4-8)

David had placed his faith in God and expected him to give the victory through his power.  He was not depending on his military power or strategies to give victory.   Time after time God had given the victory in the past, and they praised God and boasted about his deliverance.

“But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.  Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves.  Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen.  Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.  Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.  Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.” (Psalm 44:9-14)

David and his men had returned to Ziklag, only to find their families had been kidnapped while they were gone in I Samuel 30.  They had been trying to do what God said, and the Amalekites had stolen everything they owned.  It seemed like there was no hope in trusting God anymore.  The Jews had rejected them and the Philistines would not stop their attacks on Israel to come to their rescue. 

“My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,  For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.  All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.  Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way; Though thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death. “ (Psalm 44:15-19)

It was really confusing to find that after all their efforts to serve God, he would allow such things to happen to them.  They had not turned their backs on him or broken his commands, even though they were forced to live in the desert, with the lizards and snakes and hide in the shadows to keep from being executed.  It was hard to understand why God allowed wicked people like the Amalekites to do such things to them. 

If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god; Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.  Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.  

Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.  Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?  For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.  Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake. “ (Psalm 44:20-26)

If David and his men had turned their backs on God or begun worshipping other gods, they knew God would know about it because he knows the very thoughts of a person’s heart, but they were putting their lives at risk to serve and obey God.  It seemed unfair that God was allowing these things to happen.  Had he gone to sleep and forgotten about them or just decided to find someone else.  Why did it seem like he wasn’t even aware of what they were feeling?  He asks again the God intervene on their behalf.   

Christians today often come to that same point of feeling God doesn’t care and that no one else has ever had such problems.    As I Corinthians 10:13 states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”   Though it seems we are the only ones who have had such a problem it is actually common and most other people have or will feel the same struggle.  We have the assurance God will make a way to overcome it if we trust him. 

Though they were so depressed and hurt by what had happened, David and his men trusted God  and I Samuel 30:17-19 describes the results.   “And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day: and there escaped not a man of them, save four hundred young men, which rode upon camels, and fled.  And David recovered all that the Amalekites had carried away: and David rescued his two wives.  And there was nothing lacking to them, neither small nor great, neither sons nor daughters, neither spoil, nor any thing that they had taken to them: David recovered all.”  Though it seemed hopeless, they recovered everything that had been taken and more.     When we trust God we will always find our hope justified.

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