For the music director; by the Korahites, a well-written song. 2
44:1 O God, we have clearly heard; 3
our ancestors 4 have told us
what you did 5 in their days,
in ancient times. 6
44:2 You, by your power, 7 defeated nations and settled our fathers on their land; 8
you crushed 9 the people living there 10 and enabled our ancestors to occupy it. 11
44:3 For they did not conquer 12 the land by their swords,
and they did not prevail by their strength, 13
but rather by your power, 14 strength 15 and good favor, 16
for you were partial to 17 them.
44:5 By your power 18 we will drive back 19 our enemies;
by your strength 20 we will trample down 21 our foes! 22
44:7 For you deliver 23 us from our enemies;
you humiliate 24 those who hate us.
44:8 In God I boast all day long,
and we will continually give thanks to your name. (Selah)
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 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 tn Heb “with our ears we have heard.”
4 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 2; the same Hebrew word may be translated either “fathers” or “ancestors” depending on the context.
5 tn Heb “the work you worked.”
6 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 tn Heb “you, your hand.”
8 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 tn The verb form in the Hebrew text is a Hiphil preterite (without vav [ו] consecutive) from רָעַע (ra’a’, “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 tn Or “peoples.”
11 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 tn Or “take possession of.”
13 tn Heb “and their arm did not save them.” The “arm” here symbolizes military strength.
14 tn Heb “your right hand.” The
15 tn Heb “your arm.”
16 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 tn Or “favorable toward.”
18 tn Heb “by you.”
19 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.
20 tn Heb “in your name.” The
21 sn The image of the powerful wild ox continues; see the note on the phrase “drive back” in the preceding line.
22 tn Heb “those who rise up [against] us.”
23 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).
24 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).