What to do with a Psalm when you’re just not feeling it. . .


March 9, 2014

Psalm 44

O God, we have heard of Your works with our ears; Our fathers have told what You did in past years:
How nations were crushed and cast out by Your hand; You planted our fathers to live in the land.

Success did not come from the sword in their hand, nor by their arm’s strength did they conquer the land.
But rather, it was by the light of Your face; Your right hand and arm, for You showed them Your grace.

O God, You alone are forever my King; Command, and for Jacob deliverance bring.
Through You we will surely push back all our foes; Through Your name we’ll trample on those who oppose.

No trust will I place in my sword or my bow. We’ll boast in the God who saved us from the foe;
All those hating us You have brought down in shame; And so we will ever give thanks to Your name.

But You have forsaken, to shame brought our boasts; No more into battle You go with our hosts.
You make us turn back from our foes in dismay; and spoilers who hate us have made us their prey.

You sell us like sheep to be slaughtered for food; among all the nations dispersed and pursued.
In selling Your people, no payment You sought; Their price to Your treas’ry no profit has brought.

You make all our neighbors reproach us in pride, and cause those around us to scoff and deride.
Our name among nations a byword You’ve made; The people all laugh at us, shaking their head.

Now all the day long I behold my disgrace, and feel deep within me the shame of my face.
Because the blasphemer and scoffer I hear, as foe and avenger before me appear.

This came on us, but we did not forget You; But always have been to Your covenant true.
Our heart is not turned, and our steps have not strayed;
Though crushed among ruins and under death’s shade.

If we have forgotten the name of our God, or have to an idol our hands spread abroad;
Would God not search out and uncover this sin? For He knows each heart and the secrets within.

Throughout all the day for Your sake we’re consumed;
We’re counted as sheep that to slaughter are doomed.
O why are You sleeping? Arouse Yourself, Lord! Awake! Do not leave us forever ignored.

O why are You hiding the light of Your face; Forgetting the burden and grief of our race?
Our flesh turns to clay and our soul sinks to dust. O help us! Redeem us! In Your love we trust.


I remember years ago the first time I walked into a Gold’s Gym. The sheer number of different weight lifting machines and exercise stations stunned me. I thought to myself, “Who could do all this?” In one of my early novice workouts I decided to try out every machine and station. I think I took the next year off from the gym. Seriously, I discovered muscles I never knew I had. I learned it would take a structured approach over a long period of time to develop my atrophied muscular system. In that season of my life I grew stronger than ever before and it improved every aspect of my health and wellness.

Writing in the latter part of the fourth century, Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan, in his commentary on the Psalms described them as, “A gymnasium which is open for all souls to use, where the different psalms are like different exercises set out before him. In that gymnasium, in that stadium of virtue, he can choose the exercises that will train him best to win the victor’s crown.” 

When I come to a Psalm like today’s I’ve got to be honest; I’m just not feeling it. All the angst of being forsaken, forgotten and rejected for no apparent reason is just not my present experience. It’s kind of like what happened to me in the gym over time. Little by little my exercise regime got smaller and smaller and also much less diverse. I went for the “favorite” lifting machines that favored my already developed muscles. When it came to the “Cable Crossover Exercises” it got easier and easier to, “skip that one today.”

Ambrose nailed it in his word above. As it is in the gym, so it is with the Psalms. Think of the soul as a type of muscular system. The muscles I exercise will strengthen. The muscles I neglect will atrophy. The trouble with the soul is I have no mirror to assess my condition. It takes a real live situation to expose the soul. If I am not working out with Psalms like today’s text above, the muscles will simply not be there when the time comes.

Song #44 is a long way from Song #23. “The Lord is my Shepherd,” is in a completely different part of the gym than, “We’re counted as sheep that to slaughter are doomed.”

I am going to address you as a maturing believer. Do the exercise. It doesn’t matter if you feel it. Sing it now: CLICK HERE


Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.