Ben Waaraniemi | The Voice of Zion February 2023 --
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 did 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. – Psalm 44:1–6
It can be difficult to see God’s guiding hand in our day-to-day lives. In a moment of trials and difficulties, we struggle to see purpose and easily forget that the thoughts and ways of God are higher than our own (Isa. 55:9). Looking back, we can often see more clearly the goodness of God toward us. Our psalm text recalls God’s goodness in the past and encourages us to trust in His protection and guidance now and in the future as well.
“We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us.” It is clear that the previous generations had shared with their children the works of God. They were faithful to the instruction that God through Moses had given: “Thou shalt teach [these words] diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by thy way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 6:7). The sowing of God’s Word is the responsibility of each believer. There is a special obligation for parents to speak of God’s goodness to their children and to speak of how the power of God in the gospel has carried them throughout their life.
The psalmist especially recalls how God had prepared the promised land for His chosen nation. “Thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them; how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out.” God drove out the enemies of His people and planted Israelites there. They were given a land of milk and honey where everything had been prepared. Moses warned the children of Israel before they entered the promised land to “beware lest thou forget the Lord” (Deut. 6:10–13). In studying the history of the children of Israel, we see that they often forgot this instruction. It is a reminder for us to not only be hearers of the word but doers as well (James 1:22).
The psalm tells who was responsible for these victories. “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance.” It was God’s power and might that accomplished these things, not the armies of the Israelites. God showed them grace and favor, and these were not earned by any merit of their own. In the same way, the sowing of God’s Word is His work. Only He can bless it and give increase, and only He deserves honor and praise for the harvest (1 Cor. 3:7).
Following the Psalmist’s recollections of God’s past blessings, he asks God for deliverance: “Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.” This is a good example to us on how to approach God in prayer. We can remember Him and praise Him for His goodness and in faith ask for future blessings.
Although the people at the time this psalm was created lived in a difficult time, they were able to trust in God. The previous generations had done the work of sowing God’s Word. They had shared with their children and grandchildren God’s goodness and mercy and laid a sure foundation for their offspring. Let us do the same in our time. Speak to your children and grandchildren about how God has helped in your life. Take time to visit the elders and hear of their experiences. Pause to sing songs of Zion, which speak to us so powerfully of God’s goodness and love. Freely share the gospel of forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name and blood. Especially in this gospel, the love of God is revealed to us in our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:39).