So what is the explanation? Will you be impatient with me if I say that there is no explanation, at least none that is given in this psalm. There is a suggestion of one. I will come to that. But the answer the psalmist finds is not an explanation, however much he might have appreciated one, but rather a practical clinging to God and beseeching God for help in spite of God's apparent sleep or silence.

Perhaps God was temporarily looking the other way, and the people's enemies used that moment to gain the upper hand. What about this explanation for the difference between what is happening to us in the present, as compared with how we have seen God at work in the past? That explanation might work for pagans, who know nothing of the true God. But it can never work for the followers of Jehovah. Jehovah is not indifferent. He is not sleeping, even though that seems to be the case. If he is not sleeping or is not indifferent or is not impotent, then he must be behind what is happening.

The immediate past. The second part of this opening section recalls victories in the immediate past, acknowledging, as in the preceding section, that they were achieved not by any strength or virtue of the people, but by God. In this stanza the subject of the sentences becomes singular ("my" and "I"), rather than plural ("we,” “us” and "our") as in stanza one. This does not mean that we suddenly have another speaker at this point, as if this were a liturgical exchange between a priest and the people, as some scholars like to think.

A person would never expect this psalm to be a lament from reading the beginning stanzas. This is because it begins with a remembrance of God's past acts of deliverance (vv. 1-8), and these by their very nature are both positive and grounds for thanksgiving. At this point we would expect the psalm to be a thanksgiving psalm, a praise psalm, or a psalm of confidence. These remembrances are mature remembrances too, in the sense that the author and his contemporaries know that Israel's past military victories had not been achieved by their own exceptional might or skill, but by the power of God.

“God never sleeps,” wrote the Scottish commentator Murdoch Campbell in his opening observation on this psalm.1 Maybe not, but he seems to, at least at times. He seems to be sleeping when his people cry out to him in their troubles.