(15) All day long my disgrace (is) before me, and shame has covered my face (16) at the voice of him who reproaches and reviles, in the presence of the enemy and the avenger. (17) All this has come upon us although we have not forgotten you, nor have we dealt falsely with your covenant. (18) Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way. (19) Yet, you have crushed us in the place of jackals and covered us with the shadow of death.
Two connectives express the cheerless thrust of these verses, “although” (vs. 17) and “yet” (vs. 19). Both convey essentially the same discouraging meaning. We are disgraced even though we have remained faithful (vs. 15-17). We have not turned away from you, yet it feels as if you have crushed us almost to the point of death (vss. 18 & 19). Clearly, the psalmist was at a low point spiritually when he poured out his anguish before God.
I. Ashamed before enemies though not forgetting you (15-17)
II. Afflicted, near death, yet not forsaking your ways (18 & 19)
When the predicaments we experience do not correspond to the way we feel that God should be dealing with us, we cry out to him for justice.
There are times when the way we experience life does not seem to fit with the spiritual commitments we have made. A paraphrase of the psalmist’s complaint in this segment might sound like this: “We have been faithful to you, God, not straying from your paths. Yet, because of the way our enemies treat us and because of the way life’s circumstances overwhelm us, we feel as though we’re being punished by a cruel tyrant instead of encouraged by our compassionate God.” How do we respond when we are going through such difficulties? What do we say to fellow believers who are enduring such perplexities in their lives?
This issue of undeserved suffering is the burden of the Old Testament Book of Job, the story of a godly man whose abundant blessings suddenly disappeared when he became a test case in a contest between God and Satan. Unexpectedly he lost almost everything – material prosperity, a large family, his good health – without any obvious rationale. As a final blow, his wife and his close friends turned against him. While we will never endure the extreme testing Job experienced, all of us will inevitably undergo moments when it seems as if God has completely forgotten us, when we feel like saying, “What is the use of serving Yahweh if this is the way things have turned out?”
If we are prepared beforehand with the knowledge that we will inevitably encounter periods of distress in our lives, we are less likely to be spiritually devastated when they occur. Passages like this portion of Psalm 44, as difficult as they may be to fathom when everything is going well, can be a great source of comfort in the darker moments of our lives. At least we can say, “I am not the only one who has felt the way I do right now.” Looking for relief? The final segment of Psalm 44, tomorrow’s study, offers great encouragement and hope.