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Sunday, March 13, 2016


PSALM 44



"BROKEN IN THE PLACE OF DRAGONS."
Psalm 44:19
 
This song began in a note of confidence. 
 
"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...
In God we boast all the day long,
and praise Thy name forever."
(verses 1,8 KJV)

 
This song really is about praising God in the good times and the bad, about passing it down to the next generation.  For our 12 year old twin granddaughters birthday, we watched a video of when they were three or four and in a Christmas musical I directed.  It has gone down in our family lore as the best of the microphone wars.  There was a lot of pushing and shoving and elbowing going on with little cousins, sometimes pushing each other off the stage even, while another cousin took to nibbling on their angel wings.  They eventually each got their day in the spotlight in front of the microphone.   It was such a vivid memory, but I had no idea someone had caught it on video.  Oh my!  We laughed till we cried.  But in spite of the adults who were drafted "kicking and screaming" into taking part, even a son-in-law wearing white and wings with a halo, it was an incredible memory.  What a privilege to see the next generations singing and praising God from the youngest to the oldest.  The ones who were not born yet, watched the video with intense interest.  In fact, this, as I've said before, is why I write this blog, to leave a legacy.

This is a scene from another year of less violent microphone wars.
 

 
Yet, this psalm song was sung in captivity.  It has desperate lyrics.  Sometimes the bad guys win, it appears.  This has been true in Jewish history, and they are still under threat of extinction today with many nations in heated hate and rage against them.  Their hands are raised in praise, but also lifted up to be rescued.  Remember "Hosanna" means "God save us!"  It is a cry for help, not just praise.  This is how Jesus our redeemer was greeted on Palm Sunday by people who wanted to be out from under oppression.  But His kingdom is not of this world.  His salvation was not from earthly bonds, but in order to break the spiritual chains that bind us. 
 
"For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me."
(verse 6)

So what will we teach our children?
This is a picture of children watching a puppet show of
Saint George and the Dragon
 
The sooner we come to this realization that we are helpless against our enemies, the better. 


 
"Thou hast given us like sheep appointed for meat;
and hast scattered us among the heathen.
Thou sellest thy people for nought,
and dost not increase thy wealth by their price.
Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours,
a scorn and a derision to them that are round about us.
Thou makest us a byword among the heathen,
a shaking of the head among the people.
My confusion is continually before me,
and the shame of my face hath covered me...
All this is come upon us;
yet have we not forgotten Thee,
neither have we dealt falsely with Thy covenant.
Our heart is not turned back,
neither have our steps declined from Thy way."
(verses 11-15, 17-18 KJV)


 
"All this has come upon us: thus we are oppressed, devoured, banished, sold, derided;
yet we continue to be Thy servants still;--we retain our faith, hope, and service."
 
"Thou makest us a byword: We are evidently abandoned by Thee;
and are become so very miserable as a consequence,
that we are a proverb among the people.
'See the Hebrews!  see their misery and wretchedness!
See how low the wrath of God has brought them down
as an offending people!'
And the worst curse that can be deprecated against a wicked nation is,
--Mayest thou become as wretched as the Jews"

 
 
Well, I'd guess this psalm was sung in a minor key about now.  The Jews are still scattered abroad in so many nations, they have been oppressed down through history and are still oppressed, today.  They have been most brutally murdered in inhumane ways in mass.


 
"Though Thou has sore broken us in the place of dragons,
and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we have forgotten the name of our God
or stretched out our hands to a strange god;
Shall not God search this out?
for He knoweth the secrets of the heart."
(verses 19-21 KJV)


 
Just as an aside.  I believe dragons were real, that they walked upon the earth as reptiles.  One of the patron saints in England is Saint George, the one who supposedly killed the last dragon and rescued the maiden.  I think David and Saint George would have gotten along famously.


It is still celebrated today, every April 23.  In fact last year there was a new English coin depicting him.  There was also an exhibition I believe in Belgium, "L'Homme, Le Dragon et La Mort, La Gloire de Saint Georges' at the Contemporary Arts Museum, 2015 (The Man, The Dragon, and Death, The Glory of Saint George.) Thousands of pieces of art through the centuries are of him.

 
I've read one of the oldest churches from the time of William the Conqueror in the year 1050ish  A.D.  has a stained glass window depicting this. Dragons were greatly feared, and things that are greatly feared are killed: thus their extinction (ironically, just like what is attempted against the Jews)  It is said that Saint George was martyred in Palestine in 303 A.D.  His tomb is in Israel.  The dragon represents Satan, the ultimate foe.

 
"Thou has delivered us into the hands of a fierce, cruel, and murderous people.  We, as a people, are in a similar state to one who has fallen into a wilderness, where there are no human inhabitants; who hears nothing round about him but the hissing of serpents, the howlings of beasts of prey, and the terrible roaring of the lion; and who expects every moment to be devoured....'Yea, for Thy sake are we killed all the day long; for Thy sake we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.'  The sum then is, --since" we suffered great things under bitter tyrants; since, notwithstanding all our sufferings are for Thee, for Thy sake, Thy truth; therefore awake, arise, help us."  This was also true for the primitive Christians. (Romans 8:36)  "...We confidently appeal to the true God, the Searcher of hearts." (Psalm 139:33)  
 
This indeed is true faith, the Daniel in the lion's den faith.
"Slip we may, but not revolt."

 
Redeem us: ransom us in our thraldom. (slavery).  The Old Psalter says, "Help us in ryghtwysness, and by us, (buy) that es, delyver us that we be withouten drede; and al this for thi name Jehsu;
not for oure merite."


As my four year old granddaughter Addie just said as she gave our dog her favorite stuffed animal to chew, "You can only be mean to toys and bad guys!"
 
(As always, my quotes, other than from Addie, are from Adam Clarke's commentary..)
 

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