Psalm 44 – The outworking of God’s will.
Posted: 18 October 2011 in Psalms

“We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the times of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them.”

“But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies. Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves. Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat; and hast scattered us among the heathen. Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.”

Whatever happens on earth, or anywhere else in the universe, behind the scenes it is always God’s doing, and not that of his creatures. In the early verses of Psalm 44 the psalmist recalls a time when the working out of God’s intentions produced results favourable to the nation of Israel. But now he lives at a time when the reverse seems to be the case, and he can’t understand why.

Further on in the psalm he asks whether it might be punishment for idolatry which is responsible for Israel’s predicament, but that does not seem to be the case. There haven’t recently been any prophets in Israel warning of God’s displeasure, and the impending dire consequences if there is no repentance. So why, he wants to know, is this happening? It is in circumstances such as the psalmist finds himself in that the theology of the prosperity gospel (if we can grace it with the name of either theology or gospel) comes badly unstuck. God’s pursuit of his plans for the universe may have consequences which we find agreeable, but it might just as easily have consequences which we find disagreeable, and the Lord of the universe owes us no explanations whatsoever.

It may sometimes be the case that misfortune can be understood as the consequences of idolatry, and other sins, but at other times it is simply the outworking of God’s will for the universe. The part we have to play in those plans may not be wholly to our liking. None of Jesus’ first disciples had a particularly easy time of it, and we know that some of them paid for their discipleship with their lives, but that was God’s will for them.

1 Comment

1 Response to Psalm 44 – The outworking of God’s will.
  • Seth says:

    There is a common outcry in the contemporary church for worship to be more authentic. There is no better way to inspire authenticity than to use a communal lament such as Psalm 44.

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