Theme: “God Never Sleeps”
From this psalm we learn that although we sometimes may not understand what God is doing in the present, we know how God has helped us in the past, and can therefore confidently come to him in prayer for the future.
Scripture: Psalm 44:1-26
“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.
I begin this way because one of the verses of Psalm 44 is an appeal to God to wake up: “Awake, O LORD! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever” (v. 23). It is obviously an intense cry that we must take seriously if we are to understand the psalm. Besides, it is hard to read it without thinking of the time in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ when he and his disciples were crossing the lake of Galilee in a small boat after a hard day’s work, and a furious squall came up while Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples were experienced fishermen, but this was a bad storm and they were afraid of it and felt they were going to drown. So they called to Jesus to wake him up, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” Of course, Jesus did care and did wake up. He quieted the storm, leaving them wondering, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him” (Mark 4:35-41). But still Jesus was sleeping for a time. It was out of just such a frightening experience that Psalm 44 was written.
The nation of Israel had experienced a great military defeat, but we do not know when this was. Guesses range from as early as the time of David to the Persian or even to the later Maccabean period. Whenever it was, the author is asking God to hear him and save the people as he did in the past. He cannot understand why God has not yet done so.
Psalm 44 is most easily considered in three parts: 1) the past (vv. 1-8); 2) the present (vv. 9-22); and 3) the future (vv. 23-26). The past concerns God’s former acts of deliverance. The present concerns the painful, puzzling contrast between those past acts and what was happening currently. The future section consists of a prayer for help yet to come.
From the lesson, how is this psalm outlined?
Did you ever feel as if God were sleeping in regard to a request you were making? How did your knowledge of God and his Word redirect your thoughts?
1Murdoch Campbell, From Grace to Glory: Meditations on the Book of Psalms (Edinburgh and Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1979), p. 83.