An Unusual Quotation- Romans 8:36

We will now examine Psalm 44 in order to better understand why Paul would quote it how and where he did and what he wants us to learn from it. Psalm 44 was written during the time Hezekiah was king. This time was a period of revival for Israel, for Hezekiah was a good king who brought Israel back to God and away from idolatry. Israel has gone out against an enemy and been defeated, and the Psalmist (speaking for the king and the nation) is crying out to God and asking why He allowed them to be defeated. The title of the Psalm informs us that it is a “maskil”, a word whose root in Hebrew means “wisdom”, telling us that the Psalm is intended to teach something, to make its readers wise. The Psalm begins with an examination of Israel’s history, with the writer remembering “what our father’s have told us” (verse one) about how God had acted in the past. In verse 2 and 3, we find that God had fought for Israel and drove out the enemies from the land, causing Israel to flourish there, gaining victory not by their own power and strength but by reliance on God. As he surveys the history of Israel in order to determine the “reason” for their recent defeat, he finds that Israel suffered defeat in the past for one of three reasons: self-reliance, gross wickedness among the people or idolatry. He then conducts a “self-examination” of Israel in order to determine which “reason” applies to them at this time. In verses 4-8, he tells us Israel was not involved in self-reliance, that “through you we push back our enemies” (verse 5) and “you give us victory over our enemies” (verse 7). He then, in verses 9-16, cries out to God, asking why they had suffered defeat even though they trusted in him and not in their own strength (what the Bible calls “the arm of flesh”). Realizing that their defeat was not due to reason one (self-reliance), in verse 17-18 he turns his attention to reason 2 (wickedness), asserting here that Israel had not “been false to your covenant” and their “feet had not strayed from the path”, that gross wickedness was not present among the people. Having concluded that it was not reason 2 (wickedness), he turns his attention to reason 3 (idolatry) in verses 20-21, asserting there that they had not “forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign God”. The “climax” of the Psalm is then found in verses 22-24, in which the writer openly expresses his bewilderment. He has conducted a thorough investigation, determined the “reasons” why Israel has suffered defeat in the past and concluded that none of those “reasons” are valid in their case, yet they still suffered defeat. He cries out to God to tell him the “reason” and receives no answer, there will be no “explanation” as to why they suffered defeat this time (verses 23-24). The Psalm then concludes (verse 25-26) with an expression of faith and trust in God by the Psalmist. Even though he does not know “why” they have suffered defeat, he falls back on the fact that he does know God. What he knows about God here is that He alone is God and that He loves them, so He will bow before God in worship, trusting God that their recent defeat was not random and without a purpose, but that God would “work all things together for their good” (Romans 8:28) even when they didn’t understand how that could be so. We can now see why Paul would quote this particular Psalm where he does, what he wants to use this “maskil” to teach us. He has just told us that God’s love does not exempt us from troubles and “defeats”, and Paul wants us to understand that those defeats are not always our “fault”, are not necessarily due to some shortcoming on our part, but may be part of God’s plan to conform us to the image of Christ. This should serve as the death blow to any kind of “teaching” that if the believer just “has enough faith” he can sail through life, never experiencing any troubles or defeats, and that if he does not it is his own fault, that he was “defeated” due to a lack of faith or unconfessed sin in his life. As this Psalm makes abundantly clear, sometimes God allows His people to suffer defeat not of their own making, but for reasons He chooses not to share with them. True Biblical faith is trusting God even when He doesn’t answer all the questions and give us all the “reasons”, it is trusting in who He is, knowing he loves us and will “work all things together for good for those who love Him”.

No Comments Conformed to the Image of Christ  //  Old Testament

Leave a Reply

Pure Spiritual Milk

SEO Copy... Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse nunc turpis, cursus et interdum sed, lobortis vitae nunc. Integer placerat tellus odio, non sodales arcu fermentum id. Mauris vitae eleifend leo, et rhoncus odio. Ut et arcu eu ex tempus ultricies eu vel lorem. Curabitur eu consectetur neque. Suspendisse volutpat nibh urna, sit amet aliquet augue imperdiet in. Etiam eget felis pellentesque, dapibus dolor ut, sodales justo. Mauris eu arcu lectus. Suspendisse odio ex, dignissim sit amet ornare eget, elementum at odio.