A devotional on Psalm 44:1-7
N.B This initially was written as a blog post in mid-January. I then took this piece and adapted it to share as part of our youth leaders retreat at the end of January. After 3 long months it’s been re-adapted and finally making its way on to the blogosphere! So much has happened in the world since then and so I hope you find this a source of encouragement – that you can rest in God and have peace in Him. We definitely need it at this time!
Psalm 44: 1-7 (KJV, Thomas Nelson)
We have heard with our ears, O God,
Our fathers have told us, the deeds You did in their days, in days of old:
You drove out the nations with Your hand, but them You planted; You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out.
For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword, nor did their own arm save them; but it was your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance, Because You favoured them.
You are my King O God; Command victories for Jacob.
Through You we will push down our enemies: Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us. For I will not trust in my bow, Nor shall my sword save me. But You have saved us from our enemies and have put to shame those who hated us.
We live in a world where productivity and personal success is everything. We need to be seen to be busy and doing things. We need to be achieving our goals, reaching our potential. Yet in this portion of the Psalm it is quite the opposite.
If you read this Psalm in its entirety it is believed to be written as one speaking of tribulations and calamity. But in this first portion of the Psalm the psalmist is reflecting back on all that God had done for the nation of Israel.
In its early history the fledgling nation of Israel had to fight many battles in order to drive out the people inhabiting the lands they wanted to conquer, and then to maintain their lands once they were established.
But in this passage the psalmist reminds the reader that it was God that drove out the nations, God who fought the battles for them. Read every portion highlighted in bold….
“…the deeds YOU did…”
“YOU drove out the nations with YOUR hand”
“….them YOU planted…”
“YOU afflicted the peoples…”
The Israelites didn’t conquer land through their armies and military power. In fact in some situations they were often outnumbered by their enemies. So it wasn’t their own strength and might that won the battles and gave them victory, but it was the hand of God and the favour of God that allowed them to do so.
What’s more in verse 6 it the psalmist says he doesn’t rely on his weapons
“For I will not trust in my bow, nor shall my sword save me”
Before this he says it is “…through YOUR name we will trample those who rise up against us.” The name of God is the most powerful weapon, more powerful than his bow and sword.
This part of the psalm is an acknowledgment that it was God that fought the battle for Israel; it was his favour upon them and his name that gave them success. Not their own military might, the numbers of soldiers in their army, the quality of their weapons or their skill with their weapons.
In our present daily life, we are not faced with the physical battles against foreign nations like the Israelites had to face. Yet we have our own battles and struggles to deal with. We don’t necessarily call them battles. Instead it could be a journey to achieving success, a family, financial freedom, better health. But I wonder how often do we try to do things by ourselves? We try in vain, in our own strength and our own limited way of thinking.
And whilst we may not have weapons such as bows and swords, we have other “weapons” we place our trust in. Sometimes we rely on our abilities, giftings and strengths – our sharp mind, the skill with our hands, our voices that can speak and sing. Or it could be our leadership qualities, our expertise in organisation, or the way we able to talk to people and persuade them whether it is to sell a product or support a new idea.
Maybe we rely on our “tools”. For me it’s the pen and laptop I write with but for others it could the microphone we speak or sing into, the type of instruments we play, the sports equipment we use or the latest tech device and even the external things. The things you “use” to get things done. For example in order to maintain my blog I am reliant on a decent internet connection as well as platform (website host) in order to produce my blog. A few weekends ago the internet service in our area went down. For the most of the weekend we were without connection and my husband and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves! These things are examples of “tools” that help us achieve what we want in life –whether in school, in the work place, in our world.
What happens if all these things – our abilities, giftings and strengths, our tools – were to be gone in an instance?
But here we can rest assured because the psalmist is saying it is not his weapons that give him victory; it is not his weapons that bring him success. And here we need to be reminded of that too. That it is not what we can do, not the tools that we use that give us the success and achievements we desire. We can’t rely on those things. It is only through God – through his grace and mercy and favour that he can and will save us
It’s a reminder that we don’t achieve things in our own strength.
We don’t achieve things through our own power and might.
We don’t achieve things though our own intellect or what we do.
But we achieve things through what God does through us.
It’s such a great reminder because in the hustle and bustle of life we can try sooo hard to do ALL the things. To be everything, to have everything.
I think God wants us to remind us that we don’t have to do that.
In Matthew 11:28:30 it says
“Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. “
When we give our struggles and battles to God, we can rest in the assurance that He will come and fight the battle for us. That he will do the work. And that we can rest in Him.
What is it that you need to allow God to take over in your life today?