You let our neighbors mock us. We are an object of scorn and derision to those around us. You have made us the butt of their jokes; they shake their heads at us in scorn. We can’t escape the constant humiliation; shame is written across our faces. All we hear are the taunts of our mockers. All we see are our vengeful enemies.
All this has happened though we have not forgotten you. We have not violated your covenant. Our hearts have not deserted you. We have not strayed from your path. Yet you have crushed us in the jackal’s desert home. You have covered us with darkness and death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods, God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart. But for your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.
Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Get up! Do not reject us forever. Why do you look the other way? Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression? We collapse in the dust, lying face down in the dirt. Rise up! Help us! Ransom us because of your unfailing love.
This psalm may have been sung at an occasion like the one in 2 Chronicles 20:18-19, where the faithful Jehoshaphat was surrounded by enemies, and the Levites sang to the Lord before the battle.
Israel had been defeated despite their faith (44:17) and obedience (44:18) to God. The psalmist could not understand why God allowed this setback to happen, but he did not give up hope of discovering the answer (44:17-22). Although he felt his suffering was undeserved, he revealed the real reason for it: He suffered because he was committed to the Lord.
Paul later quoted the psalmist’s complaint (Romans 8:36) to show that we must always be ready to face death for the cause of Christ. Thus, our suffering may not be a punishment, but a battle scar that demonstrates our loyalty.
When you are fearful or worried, ask God for help, and remember that nothing can separate us from God’s love, not even death (Romans 8:36-39).