For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil.b
1We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
2With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
You crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
3It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was Your right hand, Your arm,
and the light of Your face, for You loved them.
4You are my King and my God,
Who decreesc victories for Jacob.
5Through You we push back our enemies;
through Your name we trample our foes.
6I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
7but You give us victory over our enemies,
You put our adversaries to shame.
8In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise Your name forever.d
9But now You have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
10You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
11You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
12You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.
13You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
14You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
15I live in disgrace all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
16at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.
17All this came upon us,
though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
18Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from Your path.
19But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
You covered us over with deep darkness.
20If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
21would not God have discovered it,
since He knows the secrets of the heart?
22Yet for Your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
23Awake, Lord! Why do You sleep?
Rouse Yourself! Do not reject us forever.
24Why do You hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?
25We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
26Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of Your unfailing love.
We are not told either who was the penmen of this psalm or when and upon what occasion it was penned, upon a melancholy occasion, we are sure, not so much to the penman himself (then we could have found occasions enough for it in the history of David and his afflictions), but to the church of God in general.
Therefore, if we suppose it penned by David, yet we must attribute it purely to the Spirit of prophecy, and must conclude that the Spirit had in view the captivity of Babylon, or the sufferings of the Jewish church under Antiochus, or rather the afflicted state of the Christian church in its early days (to which v. 22 is applied by the apostle, Romans 8:36), and indeed in all its days on earth, for it is its determined lot that it must enter into the kingdom of heaven through many tribulations.
The Psalmist recounts God's gracious dealings in former times, and the confidence they had learned to repose in Him. After a vivid picture of their calamities, he humbly expostulates against God's apparent forgetfulness, reminding Him of their faithfulness and mourning their heavy sorrows.
In singing this Psalm we ought to give God the praise of what He has formerly done for His people, to represent our own grievances, or sympathize with those parts of the church that are in distress, to engage ourselves to cleave to God and duty, and then cheerfully to wait for the good turn of the sorrowful event whatever it might be.