Psalm 44 records the cry of the innocent few who are tragically swept away in the punishment of the guilty many. The psalmist remembers when Israel had not violated God’s commands. When God’s hand was with her, she secured victory after victory (Psalm 44:1-2). He remembers God’s loving favor and smile that planted the Israelites in a land where they could flourish (Psalm 44:2-3).
But the psalmist also remembers how Israel spiraled into disobedience, and how even the few who remained obedient to God suffered the consequences of the rebellious majority. Israel no longer enjoyed God’s favor in battle (Psalm 44:9). Instead of Israel plundering her enemies, Israel’s enemies plundered her. Instead of being planted firmly in her homeland, Israel was carted off into exile and scattered among nations who did not care who was guilty or who was innocent (Psalm 44:10-11). The innocent, like sheep marked for slaughter, were surrounded by enemies and consigned to shame and disgrace (Psalm 44:13-16).
But the humiliation of the faithful few is at odds with their obedience. They had neither forgotten God nor strayed from His commands, but God seems to have forgotten his commitment to them (Psalm 44:17-18). God had crushed them along with the guilty and buried them all in the darkness of exile (Psalm 44:19, 25). The psalmist pleads their innocence and asks God to deliver them. God knows there is no unfaithfulness in them, yet they suffer like they’re guilty (Psalm 44:20-22). He calls for God to rise from his sleep and raise the faithful few from the death of exile (Psalm 44:23). Their suffering is not their fault, so they beg God to rise up and redeem them in His love (Psalm 44:26).
Where is the Gospel?
Like Israel, Jesus enjoyed God’s loving favor in his life (Matthew 3:17). God’s powerful arm gave him victory. His miracles plundered demons of their human captives and freed people from the bondage of sickness and death. Jesus, the true Israelite, won victories for God through the power of God.
And like Israel’s innocent few, Jesus never forgot God’s law or strayed into disobedience. But just like that faithful remnant, Jesus was also defeated and plundered by enemies due to no fault of his own. Like a sheep branded for slaughter, Jesus was consigned to the shame and disgrace of crucifixion (Isaiah 53:7). His exile wasn’t among the nations but among the dead.
Israel’s faithful few asked God to wake up, resurrect, and redeem Israel because of his love and their innocence. And Jesus answered their prayers. In Jesus’ resurrection, God woke from sleep and redeemed His people in unfailing love. And surprisingly, through the death of Jesus as the truly innocent one, God also finds a way to smile not just on the innocent few but on the guilty many (Isaiah 53:12). Jesus’ resurrection is greater than a military victory. Death, exile, and sin are crushed forever by Jesus' resurrection. He plants all his people in a new land of eternal flourishing, redemption, and love.
See for Yourself
I pray that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see the God who sees and smiles on the innocent. And may you see Jesus’ innocent death and resurrection as the way even the guilty can be raised to new life.