“(To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, Maschil.) 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 sis 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.
Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.
Through thee will we push down our enemies: through thy name will we tread them under that rise up against us.
For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me.
But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.” Psalms 44:1-8
Now that all sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But als, wait until we get to the other verses.
When walking by faith, as we must, the hardest force to be overcame is what we view as setbacks or times when we feel that we were on the verge of breakthrough when suddenly the enemy tighten the noose even tighter.
This was what the writer was expressing as we go forward, first acknowledging the deliverance and wonder of God shown to past generations.
Praising God in the confirmation that victories had not been won by human hands, or human means but solely through the power, might, and most of all favor of God Himself,
And they could not understand why they now felt that they had somehow lost that favor, especially as they had boasted of the might of their God and even through their confusion of what seemed lost they still would praise Him forever.
Now for their complaint as they follow up their confession of praise.
“But thou hast cast off, and put 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 does not increase thy wealth by their price.
Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.
Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.
My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me,
For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.
All this is come upon us; yet we have not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely with thy covenant.
Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
Thou thou hast sore broken us in th eplace of the dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
Shall God not search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of of the heart.
Yea, for thy sake we are killed all the long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
Wherefore thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies’ sake.” Psalms 44: 9-26
They clearly had felt that had honored God and His commands, they even acknowledged that even had they not kept everything as they should that He would search out their hearts and know this, so they just could not understand why they were experiencing the ordeal of the enemy seeming to have the victory over them.
We are given the passage concerning the voice of the enemy, the oppressor, think of that as if someone is persecuting you and treating you unfairly and then laughs in your face as you contend the faith that God will uphold and deliver you.
Paul echoed that feeling of being sheep for slaughter in Romans chapter eight, as he ended one of the most encouraging passages in the Bible.
The plea to wake up also echoed by the disciples when they were met with a fierce storm, while Jesus slept, prompting this verse: Mark 4:38: “And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
To which Jesus responded: Mark 4:39,40: “And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm, And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”
To sum it up, we are all humans, and the enemy has a way of speaking doubt into us, when things are no going well, our first response is sometimes like the disciples in questioning God’s love for us. Jesus was comfortably sleeping because He has the universe in His hands and nothing was going to happen to the disciples without His knowledge, this is why He asked them why they did not have faith in that.
This is why we must always,and it can be hard at times, but we must always use our spiritual weapons, especially the helmet of salvation to protect our thoughts and the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, choose a few verses that reallys peak to your heart and that apply to your particular battle and quote those, jeep them on your mind, and speak them aloud every time the enemy tries to plant that doubt, and remember you are not alone and even John the Baptist,, a man whom Jesus referred to ask the greatest prophet born, but once arrested and thrown in prison, and isolated heard that voice of oppressing doubt speak, making even him question had he understood correctly.
Remember this took place after John had preached,a nd baptized, and even baptized Jesus, proclaiming Him as the Lamb of God, and if John could question, we too, can sometimes face those moments of doubt when we need to hear the voice of assurance.
Luke 7:19-22: ” And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another? When the men were come unto him, they said, John the baptist haths ent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits, and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way,and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised, to the poor the Gospel is preached.”
John had fulfilled his commission, he just needed reassurance of that truth.
That’s one I have used many times, because it gave me so much encouragement to fight that doubt in my times of battle, once i had been enlightened to it.
As we those above, they also felt forsaken, and forgotten, but we know that He will never forget us, as He has promised.
So now, I want to give you a glimpse of two others that undoubtedly felt that things could not possibly be proceeding as God planned, but in reality, everything was right on the divine course.
I will have to highlight this for sake of your reading, but most know the story of Moses and how he had been divinely spared as a baby when Pharaoh had ordered the death of all the male babies. He had been rescued from the Nile and raised up in the house of Pharaoh
Once grown he had killed an Egyptian that he saw beating a slave and had fled into the desert, there he married and eventually had an encounter with God at the burning bush, two things, Moses had to be willing to turn aside, to go out of his way, to further investigate the bush and he had to be willing to hear the voice of God, and even though he trie dto persuade his way out of his commission, he did go on to do as God commanded, and even thug he went about it the wrong way, by killing the Egyptian, God did, later in his life, give him the desire of his heart, by allowing him to see his people freed.
So we’re just going to look at the verses concerning what happened at his first meeting with Pharaoh, you can read more about that test of wills,by clicking that link, but for this post will go to this passage, now, bear in mind, that Moses probably thinks he is going there and giving God’s command and the people will be freed, but it was not quite that simple.
Exodus 5:1-23: “And afterward Moses and Arron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.
And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us, let us go, we pray thee, three day’s journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall on us with pestilence, or with the sword.
And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore so ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore, let them go and gather straw for themselves.
And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof; (quota) for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake unto the people, saying, Thus saith Pharoah, I will not give you starw.
Go ye, get you straw where you can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore (before)?
Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried unto Pharaoh, saying, Wherefore dealest thou thus with thy servants(Why are you treating us this way) ?
There is no straw given unto thy servants, and they say unto us, Make brick: and, behold, thy servants are beaten, but the fault is in thine own people.
But he said unto them, Ye are idle, ye rae idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD.
Go therefore now, and work; for there shall no straw be given you, yet ye shall deliver your tale of bricks.
And the officers of the children of Israel did see that they were in evil case, ( a bad spot) after it was said, Ye shall not minish ought from your bricks of your daily task.
And they met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharoah:
And said unto them, The LORD look upon you, and judge; because ye have made our savour to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to out a sword in their hand to slay us.
And Moses returned unto the LORD and said, Lord wherefore (why) has thou so evil entreated this people? why is it that thou hast sent me?
For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in they name, he hath done evil to this people; neither hast thou delivered thy people at all.”
So at that time, it appeared as tough not only would the Hebrews not be freed but that their lives had actually been worsened.
Moses could not even understand it, but as it all unfolded we know that God’s power would be displayed on the miraculous level, while protecting His people, He would prove to Pharaoh that He indeed would heed the command of God concerning His people and with that, Egypt as it had been was essentially destroyed, never again the empire it once, and the Egyptians under the wrath of God through the plagues were glad to see the Hebrews go.
Now to give you a glimpse of Esther, then I’ll give you then common denominator between the two and how it applies to you.
Hadassah, known as Esther, was an orphan who had been raised by her Uncle Mordecai, who had been in the captivity of Jerusalem by Babylon. The king Ahasuerus divorced his Queen Vashti because she had a rather bad attitude in refusing to come before him and all his friends, which you can kinda see her point but no one refuses a king’s request without penalty, so the king is advised to bring all the available virgins before him to choose a new queen and Esther was really thoughtful in asking advice of those who were appointed over the women in running, she did as they advised and she was indeed crowned queen, it says that she was loved by king Ahasuerus above all women and she found favor and grace in his sight more than all the virgins. And as the story goes, Mordecai had a mortal enemy named Haman, who just hated him and hated him because he refused to bow before him, there is a completely separate story about him having a gallows erected on which to hang Mordecai but he himself was hanged on his own gallows> God delivers swift justice at time and the enemy often suffers what they have intended against God’s children, but back to the point.
As part of his hatred Haman made a deal with the king, to pay him and in return the the king would decree a law that all Jews could be killed, now the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, as Mordecai had told her to keep it secret.
When Mordecai learned of the decree, he sat outside the gate, Esther had word sent to him, he sent word back informing her of all that had and was to take place and asked that she go to the king and ask for the lives of her people.
She sent word back that she could not go to him, because she had not been called and that time anyone approaching the king uninvited would be killed unless he held out his sceptre and he had not asked to see her in a month.
Now remember she is the Queen of Persia and he husband was obviously quite smitten wit her and she was not in the mood for dying.
Mordecai’s answer back: Esther: 4:13, 14: “Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape the king’s house, more than all the Jews.
For if thou altogether holdest thy peace (don’t say anything) at this time, then shall there be an enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come o the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Mordecai understood that even if Esther could not quite see it, that maybe God had intentionally put her on the throne, so that through her voice His people would be spared.
Her answer to Mordecai: Esther 4:16: “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so I will go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.”
She took all her faith and all her courage and went in unannounced and she was given favor, all the while Haman making his plans to kill all her people starting with Mortdecai, she asked the king that he and Hamn attend a banquet she would give, and at the first she requested a second as the king promised to grant her anything “up to half the kingdom”
Her response: Esther 7:3-6: “Then Esther the queen answered and said, If I have found favour in thy sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be given me at my petition, and my people at my request.
For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, t be slain, and to perish. BUt if we had been sold for bondmen and bondswomen, I had held my tongue, although the enemy could not countervail the king’s damage.
Then the king Ahasuerus answered and said to esther the queen, Who is he, and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do so?
And Esther said, The adversary and enemy is the wicked Haman. Then Haman was afraid before the king and queen.”
At this point the king being angry left for a second and Haman attempting to beg for his life had fallen on the bed Esther was on, the king cam eback seeing this thought he was attacking Esther and when told of the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai, the king commanded that he be hung there.
If you have never read this book, please do so, but to continue, the king could not reverse a decree once it had been decreed so instead they enacted a new one that the Jews could defend themselves against the attack of that day and there was a slaughter but not of the Jews but by them against their enemies, including the deaths of the ten sons of Haman, and their corpses displayed for all to see.
Such a victory that it led to the feast Purim, Esther 9:17: “On the thirteenth day of the month Adar; and on the fourteenth day of the same rested they, and made a day of feasting and gladness.”
Esther 9:26-30:” Wherefore they called these days Purim after the name of Pur. Therefore for all the words of this letter; and of that which they had seen concerning this matter, and which had come unto them.
The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them, so as it should not fail, and that they would keep these two days according to their writing, and according to their appointed time every year.
And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city, and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.
Then Esther the queen, the daughter of Abihail, and Mordecai the Jew, wrote with all authority, to confirm the second letter of Purim.
And he sent the letters unto all the Jews, to the hundred twenty and seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus, with words of peace and truth.”
They both had to have faith in the face of the enemy, when all appeared lost and hopeless, they had to have faith not only for themselves but they had to have have faith for all those they had been sent too.
They had to come to the understanding that even if it looked as if it was all over, God was very much in control and working all together for a glorious display and a victories that would be remembered for generations.
Hold true to your faith today, as a child of God, even when you don’t feel it, deliverance is on the way and others need to see His children stand when others would have given up hope.
Φλογιζω NBJ 2023/ Rev. N. Brown Johnson