The cry of the slaughtered sheep to the Shepherd

David not only entreated for himself personally through the psalms, but here is an earnest supplication for his nation. We ought to have a national concern, but his nation, the holy nation and peculiar people, symbolises the church. He contrasts times past with the then present conditions, and not only laments the deterioration, but also vehemently prays for its alteration.

Why the nation had experienced defeat and had been shamed before her enemies is not explained. In fact, there is no mention of any transgression that could have brought this affliction upon them. In God’s providence it was so, and maybe it was to draw out such a prayer as this. Sin is not the only reason why God chastens.

Yet faith and hope can be stirred into exercise by the remembrance of past favours. “We have heard with our ears O God, our fathers have told us.” To read the history of God’s people, and to hear of victories and revivals of the past, is a great means of promoting desires for such present favours.

Psalm 44

   1  O God, we with our ears have heard,
         our fathers have us told,
      What works thou in their days hadst done,
         ev'n in the days of old.

   2  Thy hand did drive the heathen out,
         and plant them in their place;
      Thou didst afflict the nations,
         but them thou didst increase.

   3  For neither got their sword the land,
         nor did their arm them save;
      But thy right hand, arm, countenance;
         for thou them favor gave.

   4  Thou art my King: for Jacob, Lord,
         deliv'rances command.
   5  Through thee we shall push down our foes,
         that do against us stand:

      We, through thy name, shall tread down those
         that ris'n against us have.
   6  For in my bow I shall not trust,
         nor shall my sword me save.

   7  But from our foes thou hast us saved,
         our haters put to shame.
   8  In God we all the day do boast,
         and ever praise thy name.

   9  But now we are cast off by thee,
         and us thou putt'st to shame;
      And when our armies do go forth,
            thou go'st not with the same.

  10  Thou mak'st us from the enemy,
         faint-hearted, to turn back;
      And they who hate us for themselves
         our spoils away do take.

  11  Like sheep for meat thou gavest us;
         'mong heathen cast we be.
  12  Thou didst for nought thy people sell;
         their price enrich'd not thee.

  13  Thou mak'st us a reproach to be
         unto our neighbors near;
      Derision and a scorn to them
         that round about us are.

  14  A by-word also thou dost us
         among the heathen make;
      The people, in contempt and spite,
         at us their heads do shake.

  15  Before me my confusion
         continually abides;
      And of my bashful countenance
         the shame me ever hides:

  16  For voice of him that doth reproach,
         and speaketh blasphemy;
      By reason of th' avenging foe,
         and cruel enemy.

  17  All this is come on us, yet we
         have not forgotten thee;
      Nor falsely in thy covenant
         behaved ourselves have we.

18  Back from thy way our heart not turned;
         our steps no straying made;
  19  Though us thou brak'st in dragons' place,
         and cover'dst with death's shade.

  20  If we God's name forgot, or stretched
         to a strange god our hands,
  21  Shall not God search this out? for he
         heart's secrets understands.

  22  Yea, for thy sake we're killed all day,
         counted as slaughter-sheep.
  23  Rise, Lord, cast us not ever off;
         awake, why dost thou sleep?

  24  O wherefore hidest thou thy face?
         forgett'st our cause distressed,
  25  And our oppression? For our soul
         is to the dust down pressed:

      Our belly also on the earth
         fast cleaving, hold doth take.
  26  Rise for our help, and us redeem,
         ev'n for thy mercies' sake.

Recommended Tunes

Old 44th (Verses 1 - 8)

Tallis (Verses 9-26)

St Peter (Verses 9-26)