Faith Among Futility
“Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.” (Ps. 44:26)
Like many of you, we find it helpful (and easy) to read a psalm together to set our expectations for the day. One of the psalms we read this week was Psalm 44—a psalm that David composed and dedicated to the director of music (see below). This psalm is divided into two halves—verses 1-12 and verses 13-26.
In the first half of this praise, David models how our praise should be. First, he reminds his readers of how “we have heard with our ears” what God has done, but also we have been told by our fathers what God “did in their days long ago.” Our own spiritual experience and those who’ve gone before us join in concert. Our united witness is that God conquered his peoples’ enemies, but the conquest was not caused by human swords or militaries but by God’s “right hand, your arm, and the light of your face.” (v. 3) As you start this day, might it not be good to remind yourself and your family that victories come from God and the “light of his face” instead of from our work, cunning, brilliance, or opportunism?
David continues that theme in v. 6 by reiterating that he does not trust in his human tools but “In God we make our boast all day long.” This psalm also, contrary to most modern spirituality, accepts that God humbles us—even selling his “people for a pittance” when they stubbornly will not follow him. We are assured of no tenure with God, if we persist in ignoring him.
The second half of this psalm picks up there, lamenting that God has made his people a “reproach,” a “derision,” a shame, and a “disgrace,” even allowing the enemies to taunt God’s people. Is this not a needed corrective that reminds us that God will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7) and that he will not permit our disobedience always? Why, God may even use pagans to humble us.
Yet, there is a remnant who have been faithful to God in verses 17-25. Their faithful voice, even though lumped in with their rebel neighbors, is one to imitate today. When those around us are being judged, can you say, “Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path.” (v. 18)
Then, while the believer, clinging to faith among the futility of this world, prays, he asserts a very New Testamental sentiment, willing to follow God amidst the shadow of death: “Yet for your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” Remember where that’s quoted in the New Testament? It’s worth a lookup.
Psalm 44 concludes with a prayer that you can paraphrase in your own prayers, begging: “Awake, O Lord . . . Do not reject us forever. . .. We are brought down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up and help us; redeem us because of your unfailing love.” That’s a prayer to make for these times! “Rise up, O Lord! Help us and redeem us”—and it will all be due to God’s unfailing love.
There are many rich truths to apply from this Psalm. Maybe you and your family would like to read one per day or revisit the same one several times. That summer school practice might align your hopes and values.
Speaking of Directors of Music: For your listening pleasure. Ann and I were thrilled to receive a link to about a half hour of music that will lift your quarantined spirits. Anna Dodd (along with Judy Dodd and Arie Motschman) has recorded a number of her superb French Horn offertories, played over the years at Midway. And these are just fantastic! Knowing Anna and her strong testimony makes each of these even better. Click on these nine selections at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLyNIMmKtUQ4tRf4ZU3JkJXszC-NCnqc6o, but only do so after reading her introduction to “Dear Listener.” As we listen to these or sing hymns, we will together “praise our Maker while we have breath.”
Speaking of Evening Worship: it resumes at 6:00 PM this Sunday night. The feast will be prepared; all you have to do is show up. So many of us have missed a Sunday School class, or worship, or a bible study . . . and so many of us have absolutely no commitments or schedule conflicts on our early summer Sunday evenings. Why not join us for a rich time of worship this week? The earliest pattern of worship was for God’s people to bring morning AND evening sacrifices in the Old Testament (Ex. 28:39; Num. 28:4). Maybe your spiritual diet needs to recalibrate or make up for lost times. If so, join us this summer for evening worship. Wouldn’t it be a blessing to meet with the Lord and his people more than once each week? And since few area churches have an evening service, please spread the word and invite your friends.