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Psalm 44[a]

For the music director, by the Korahites; a well-written song.[b]

44 O God, we have clearly heard;[c]
our ancestors[d] have told us
what you did[e] in their days,
in ancient times.[f]
You, by your power,[g] defeated nations and settled our fathers on their land;[h]
you crushed[i] the people living there[j] and enabled our ancestors to occupy it.[k]
For they did not conquer[l] the land by their swords,
and they did not prevail by their strength,[m]
but rather by your power,[n] strength,[o] and good favor,[p]
for you were partial to[q] them.
You are my[r] king, O God.
Decree[s] Jacob’s[t] deliverance.
By your power[u] we will drive back[v] our enemies;
by your strength[w] we will trample down[x] our foes.[y]
For I do not trust in my bow,
and I do not prevail by my sword.
For you deliver[z] us from our enemies;
you humiliate[aa] those who hate us.
In God we boast all day long,
and we will continually give thanks to your name. (Selah)
But[ab] you rejected and embarrassed us.
You did not go into battle with our armies.[ac]
10 You made us retreat[ad] from the enemy.
Those who hate us take whatever they want from us.[ae]
11 You handed us[af] over like sheep to be eaten;
you scattered us among the nations.
12 You sold[ag] your people for a pittance;[ah]
you did not ask a high price for them.[ai]
13 You made us[aj] an object of disdain to our neighbors;
those who live on our borders taunt and insult us.[ak]
14 You made us[al] an object of ridicule[am] among the nations;
foreigners treat us with contempt.[an]
15 All day long I feel humiliated[ao]
and am overwhelmed with shame,[ap]
16 before the vindictive enemy
who ridicules and insults me.[aq]
17 All this has happened to us, even though we have not rejected you[ar]
or violated your covenant with us.[as]
18 We have not been unfaithful,[at]
nor have we disobeyed your commands.[au]
19 Yet you have battered us, leaving us a heap of ruins overrun by wild dogs;[av]
you have covered us with darkness.[aw]
20 If we had rejected our God,[ax]
and spread out our hands in prayer to another god,[ay]
21 would not God discover it,
for he knows[az] a person’s secret thoughts?[ba]
22 Yet because of you[bb] we are killed all day long;
we are treated like[bc] sheep at the slaughtering block.[bd]
23 Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?
Wake up![be] Do not reject us forever.
24 Why do you look the other way,[bf]
and ignore[bg] the way we are oppressed and mistreated?[bh]
25 For we lie in the dirt,
with our bellies pressed to the ground.[bi]
26 Rise up and help us.
Rescue us[bj] because of your loyal love.


  1. Psalm 44:1 sn Psalm 44. The speakers in this psalm (the worshiping community within the nation Israel) were disappointed with God. The psalm begins on a positive note, praising God for leading Israel to past military victories. Verses 1-8 appear to be a song of confidence and petition which the people recited prior to battle. But suddenly the mood changes as the nation laments a recent defeat. The stark contrast between the present and the past only heightens the nation’s confusion. Israel trusted in God for victory, but the Lord rejected them and allowed them to be humiliated in battle. If Israel had been unfaithful to God, their defeat would make sense, but the nation was loyal to the Lord. Comparing the Lord to a careless shepherd, the nation urges God to wake up and to extend his compassion to his suffering people.
  2. Psalm 44:1 tn The meaning of the Hebrew term מַשְׂכִּיל (maskil) is uncertain. See the note on the phrase “well-written song” in the superscription of Ps 42.
  3. Psalm 44:1 tn Heb “with our ears we have heard.”
  4. Psalm 44:1 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 2; the same Hebrew word may be translated either “fathers” or “ancestors” depending on the context.
  5. Psalm 44:1 tn Heb “the work you worked.”
  6. Psalm 44:1 tn Heb “in the days of old.” This refers specifically to the days of Joshua, during Israel’s conquest of the land, as vv. 2-3 indicate.
  7. Psalm 44:2 tn Heb “you, your hand.”
  8. Psalm 44:2 tn Heb “dispossessed nations and planted them.” The third masculine plural pronoun “them” refers to the fathers (v. 1). See Ps 80:8, 15.
  9. Psalm 44:2 tn The verb form in the Hebrew text is a Hiphil preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive) from רָעַע (raʿaʿ, “be evil; be bad”). If retained it apparently means, “you injured; harmed.” Some prefer to derive the verb from רָעַע (“break”; cf. NEB “breaking up the peoples”), in which case the form must be revocalized as Qal (since this verb is unattested in the Hiphil).
  10. Psalm 44:2 tn Or “peoples.”
  11. Psalm 44:2 tn Heb “and you sent them out.” The translation assumes that the third masculine plural pronoun “them” refers to the fathers (v. 1), as in the preceding parallel line. See Ps 80:11, where Israel, likened to a vine, “spreads out” its tendrils to the west and east. Another option is to take the “peoples” as the referent of the pronoun and translate, “and you sent them away,” though this does not provide as tight a parallel with the corresponding line.
  12. Psalm 44:3 tn Or “take possession of.”
  13. Psalm 44:3 tn Heb “and their arm did not save them.” The “arm” here symbolizes military strength.
  14. Psalm 44:3 tn Heb “your right hand.” The Lord’s “right hand” here symbolizes his power to protect and deliver (see Pss 17:7; 20:6; 21:8).
  15. Psalm 44:3 tn Heb “your arm.”
  16. Psalm 44:3 tn Heb “light of your face.” The idiom “light of your face” probably refers to a smile (see Eccl 8:1), which in turn suggests favor and blessing (see Num 6:25; Pss 4:6; 31:16; 67:1; 80:3, 7, 19; 89:15; Dan 9:17).
  17. Psalm 44:3 tn Or “favorable toward.”
  18. Psalm 44:4 sn The speaker changes here to an individual, perhaps the worship leader or the king. The oscillation between singular (vv. 4, 6) and plural (vv. 1-3, 5, 7-8) in vv. 1-8 may reflect an antiphonal ceremony.
  19. Psalm 44:4 tc The LXX assumes a participle here (מְצַוֶּה [metsavveh], “the one who commands/decrees”) which would stand in apposition to “my God.” It is possible that the MT, which has the imperative (צַוֵּה, tsavveh) form, has suffered haplography of the letter mem (ם). Note that the preceding word (אֱלֹהִים, ʾelohim) ends in mem. Another option is that the MT is divided in the wrong place; perhaps one could move the final mem from אֱלֹהִים to the beginning of the next word and read מְצַוֶּה אֱלֹהָי (ʾelohay metsavveh, “[You are my king,] my God, the one who decrees”).tn Or “command.” This may be the Israelites’ petition prior to the battle. See the introductory note to the psalm.
  20. Psalm 44:4 tn That is, Israel. See Pss 14:7; 22:23.
  21. Psalm 44:5 tn Heb “by you.”
  22. Psalm 44:5 tn Heb “gore” (like an ox). If this portion of the psalm contains the song of confidence/petition the Israelites recited prior to battle, then the imperfects here and in the next line may express their expectation of victory. Another option is that the imperfects function in an emphatic generalizing manner. In this case one might translate, “you [always] drive back…you [always] trample down.”sn The Hebrew verb translated “drive back” is literally “gore”; the imagery is that of a powerful wild ox that “gores” its enemies and tramples them underfoot.
  23. Psalm 44:5 tn Heb “in your name.” The Lord’s “name” refers here to his revealed character or personal presence. Specifically in this context his ability to deliver, protect, and energize for battle is in view (see Ps 54:1).
  24. Psalm 44:5 sn The image of the powerful wild ox continues; see the note on the phrase “drive back” in the preceding line.
  25. Psalm 44:5 tn Heb “those who rise up [against] us.”
  26. Psalm 44:7 tn Or “have delivered,” if past successes are in view. Another option is to take the perfect as rhetorical, emphasizing that victory is certain (note the use of the imperfect in vv. 5-6).
  27. Psalm 44:7 tn Or “have humiliated,” if past successes are in view. Another option is to take the perfect as rhetorical, emphasizing that victory is certain (note the use of the imperfect in vv. 5-6).
  28. Psalm 44:9 tn The particle אַף (ʾaf, “but”) is used here as a strong adversative contrasting the following statement with what precedes.
  29. Psalm 44:9 tn Heb “you did not go out with our armies.” The prefixed verbal form is a preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive).
  30. Psalm 44:10 tn Heb “you caused us to turn backward.”
  31. Psalm 44:10 tn Heb “plunder for themselves.” The prepositional phrase לָמוֹ (lamo, “for themselves”) here has the nuance “at their will” or “as they please” (see Ps 80:6).
  32. Psalm 44:11 tn The prefixed verbal form is a preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive).
  33. Psalm 44:12 tn The prefixed verbal form is a preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive).
  34. Psalm 44:12 tn Heb “for what is not wealth.”
  35. Psalm 44:12 tn Heb “you did not multiply their purchase prices.”
  36. Psalm 44:13 tn The prefixed verbal form is a preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive).
  37. Psalm 44:13 tn Heb “an [object of] taunting and [of] mockery to those around us.”
  38. Psalm 44:14 tn The prefixed verbal form is a preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive).
  39. Psalm 44:14 tn Heb “a proverb,” or “[the subject of] a mocking song.”
  40. Psalm 44:14 tn Heb “a shaking of the head among the peoples.” Shaking the head was a derisive gesture (see Jer 18:16; Lam 2:15).
  41. Psalm 44:15 tn Heb “all the day my humiliation [is] in front of me.”
  42. Psalm 44:15 tn Heb “and the shame of my face covers me.”
  43. Psalm 44:16 tn Heb “from the voice of one who ridicules and insults, from the face of an enemy and an avenger.” See Ps 8:2.
  44. Psalm 44:17 tn Heb “we have not forgotten you.” To “forget” God refers here to worshiping false gods and thereby refusing to recognize his sovereignty (see v. 20, as well as Deut 8:19; Judg 3:7; 1 Sam 12:9; Isa 17:10; Jer 3:21; Ps 9:17).Thus the translation “we have not rejected you” has been used.
  45. Psalm 44:17 tn Heb “and we did not deal falsely with your covenant.”
  46. Psalm 44:18 tn Heb “our heart did not turn backward.” Cf. Ps 78:57.
  47. Psalm 44:18 tn Heb “and our steps did [not] turn aside from your path.” The negative particle is understood by ellipsis (see the preceding line). God’s “path” refers to his commands, i.e., the moral pathway he has prescribed for the psalmist. See Pss 17:5; 25:4.
  48. Psalm 44:19 tn Heb “yet you have battered us in a place of jackals.”
  49. Psalm 44:19 tn The Hebrew term צַלְמָוֶת (tsalmavet) has traditionally been understood as a compound noun meaning “shadow of death” (מָוֶת + צֵל [tsel + mavet]; see BDB 853 s.v. צַלְמָוֶת; cf. NASB). Other scholars prefer to vocalize the form צַלְמוּת (tsalmut) and understand it as an abstract noun (from the root צלם) meaning “darkness” (cf. NIV, NRSV). An examination of the word’s usage favors the latter derivation. It is frequently associated with darkness/night and contrasted with light/morning (see Job 3:5; 10:21-22; 12:22; 24:17; 28:3; 34:22; Ps 107:10, 14; Isa 9:1; Jer 13:16; Amos 5:8). In some cases the darkness described is associated with the realm of death (Job 10:21-22; 38:17), but this is a metaphorical application of the word and does not reflect its inherent meaning. In Ps 44:19 darkness symbolizes defeat and humiliation.
  50. Psalm 44:20 tn Heb “If we had forgotten the name of our God.” To “forget the name” here refers to rejecting the Lord’s authority (see Jer 23:27) and abandoning him as an object of prayer and worship (see the next line).
  51. Psalm 44:20 tn Heb “and spread out your hands to another god.” Spreading out the hands was a prayer gesture (see Exod 9:29, 33; 1 Kgs 8:22, 38; 2 Chr 6:12-13, 29; Ezra 9:15; Job 11:13; Isa 1:15). In its most fundamental sense זָר (zar, “another; foreign; strange”) refers to something that is outside one’s circle, often making association with it inappropriate. A “strange” god is an alien deity, an “outside god” (see L. A. Snijders, TDOT 4:54-55).
  52. Psalm 44:21 tn The active participle describes what is characteristically true.
  53. Psalm 44:21 tn Heb “would not God search out this, for he knows the hidden things of [the] heart?” The expression “search out” is used metonymically here, referring to discovery, the intended effect of a search. The “heart” (i.e., mind) is here viewed as the seat of one’s thoughts. The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Of course he would!” The point seems to be this: There is no way the Israelites who are the speakers in the psalm would reject God and turn to another god, for the omniscient God would easily discover such a sin.
  54. Psalm 44:22 tn The statement “because of you” (1) may simply indicate that God is the cause of the Israelites’ defeat (see vv. 9-14, where the nation’s situation is attributed directly to God’s activity, and cf. NEB, NRSV), or (2) it may suggest they suffer because of their allegiance to God (see Ps 69:7 and Jer 15:15). In this case one should translate, “for your sake” (cf. NASB, NIV). The citation of this verse in Rom 8:36 follows the LXX (Ps 43:23 LXX), where the Greek term ἕνεκεν (heneken; LXX ἕνεκα) may likewise mean “because of” or “for the sake of” (BDAG 334 s.v. ἕνεκα 1).
  55. Psalm 44:22 tn Or “regarded as.”
  56. Psalm 44:22 tn Heb “like sheep of slaughtering,” that is, sheep destined for slaughter.
  57. Psalm 44:23 sn Wake up! See Ps 35:23.
  58. Psalm 44:24 tn Heb “Why do you hide your face?” The idiom “hide the face” can mean “ignore” (see Pss 10:11; 13:1; 51:9) or carry the stronger idea of “reject” (see Pss 30:7; 88:14).
  59. Psalm 44:24 tn Or “forget.”
  60. Psalm 44:24 tn Heb “our oppression and our affliction.”
  61. Psalm 44:25 tn Heb “for our being/life sinks down to the dirt, our belly clings to the earth.” The suffixed form of נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh, “being, life”) is often equivalent to a pronoun in poetic texts.
  62. Psalm 44:26 tn Or “redeem us.” See Pss 25:22; 26:11; 69:18; 119:134.