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This is the New King James text of the passages.
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Psalms 43, 44, 45, 49, 84, 85, 87     Listen Podcast


Looking for some vindication before the ungodly (Psalm 43)

1 ¶ Vindicate me, O God,
And plead my cause against an ungodly nation;
Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man!
2 For You are the God of my strength;
Why do You cast me off?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
3 Oh, send out Your light and Your truth!
Let them lead me;
Let them bring me to Your holy hill
And to Your tabernacle.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And on the harp I will praise You,
O God, my God.
5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.

This Psalm appears to be written by David, but that is not certain. He prays to God to be restored to fellowship. It is noteworthy to see that he depends on God as he prays when he beckons him to "plead my cause against an ungodly nation." The Hebrew word translated "nation" here may refer to non-Jewish hostilities, but not necessarily. The reference to "holy hill" in verse 3 is most likely a direct reference to Jerusalem. It is used in that context in Psalms 2:6 (see notes), "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion." If that be the case, the time frame for the writing of this Psalm would fall after David established Jerusalem as the home of the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6, see notes).

Rejected by God? (Psalm 44)

To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah.
1 ¶ We have heard with our ears, O God,
Our fathers have told us,
The deeds You did in their days,
In days of old:
2 You drove out the nations with Your hand,
But them You planted;
You afflicted the peoples, and cast them out.
3 For they did not gain possession of the land by their own sword,
Nor did their own arm save them;
But it was Your right hand, Your arm, and the light of Your countenance,
Because You favored them.
4 You are my King, O God;
Command victories for Jacob.
5 Through You we will push down our enemies;
Through Your name we will trample those who rise up against us.
6 For I will not trust in my bow,
Nor shall my sword save me.
7 But You have saved us from our enemies,
And have put to shame those who hated us.
8 In God we boast all day long,
And praise Your name forever.
9 But You have cast us off and put us to shame,
And You do not go out with our armies.
10 You make us turn back from the enemy,
And those who hate us have taken spoil for themselves.
11 You have given us up like sheep intended for food,
And have scattered us among the nations.
12 You sell Your people for next to nothing,
And are not enriched by selling them.
13 You make us a reproach to our neighbors,
A scorn and a derision to those all around us.
14 You make us a byword among the nations,
A shaking of the head among the peoples.
15 My dishonor is continually before me,
And the shame of my face has covered me,
16 Because of the voice of him who reproaches and reviles,
Because of the enemy and the avenger.
17 All this has come upon us;
But we have not forgotten You,
Nor have we dealt falsely with Your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
Nor have our steps departed from Your way;
19 But You have severely broken us in the place of jackals,
And covered us with the shadow of death.
20 If we had forgotten the name of our God,
Or stretched out our hands to a foreign god,
21 Would not God search this out?
For He knows the secrets of the heart.
22 Yet for Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
23 Awake! Why do You sleep, O Lord?
Arise! Do not cast us off forever.
24 Why do You hide Your face,
And forget our affliction and our oppression?
25 For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
Our body clings to the ground.
26 Arise for our help,
And redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.

This Psalm focuses on a time of national peril, but the author is unknown...maybe David. Here he expresses national despair and even questions why God has allowed a rejection of his people when they are not involved in wrongdoing. We can't know for sure where in Israel's history this Psalm might have been written, but it's a nationally-dark period - even if for a short while. Verse 26 does express the Psalmist's confidence in God's provision, however. Paul quotes verse 22 in Romans 8:36 (see notes) when he says, "As it is written: 'For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.'"

Incidentally, the sons of Korah are mentioned in the subtitle. The Korahites are first listed in Numbers 26:58 (see notes) among the chief Levitical families. They fit into the temple bureaucracy as “gatekeepers” in I Chronicles 26:1 (see notes) and are listed in the subtitles of 11 different Psalms. Perhaps they were keepers of the praise music.

A wedding song? (Psalm 45)

To the Chief Musician. Set to “The Lilies.” A Contemplation of the sons of Korah. A Song of Love.
1 ¶ My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
2 You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
3 Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One,
With Your glory and Your majesty.
4 And in Your majesty ride prosperously because of truth, humility, and righteousness;
And Your right hand shall teach You awesome things.
5 Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies;
The peoples fall under You.
6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever;
A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom.
7 You love righteousness and hate wickedness;
Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You
With the oil of gladness more than Your companions.
8 All Your garments are scented with myrrh and aloes and cassia,
Out of the ivory palaces, by which they have made You glad.
9 Kings’ daughters are among Your honorable women;
At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir.
10 Listen, O daughter,
Consider and incline your ear;
Forget your own people also, and your father’s house;
11 So the King will greatly desire your beauty;
Because He is your Lord, worship Him.
12 And the daughter of Tyre will come with a gift;
The rich among the people will seek your favor.
13 The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace;
Her clothing is woven with gold.
14 She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors;
The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You.
15 With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought;
They shall enter the King’s palace.
16 Instead of Your fathers shall be Your sons,
Whom You shall make princes in all the earth.
17 I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations;
Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever.

Although the authorship of this Psalm is unknown, this certainly looks like a special-occasion song written for the ceremony of a royal couple - perhaps for David himself. As a matter of fact, notice verses 16-17, "Instead of Your fathers shall be Your sons, Whom You shall make princes in all the earth. I will make Your name to be remembered in all generations; Therefore the people shall praise You forever and ever." That surely is a reference to the longevity of the Davidic throne based upon the provisions of the Davidic Covenant (see notes).

You will notice a reference in this Psalm as well to the "sons of Korah" and "Contemplation" as well (see notes on Psalm 44 above). In addition, another word is found in the subtitle here, "Shoshannim," the Hebrew word for "lily." Furthermore, we see there "A song of loves." So...what does it all mean?

Following is an excerpt from the Expositor's Bible Commentary regarding this Psalm:

The psalm is a royal psalm and functioned as a wedding song at the occasion of the wedding of a royal couple. Because of the theological significance of the wedding and the function of the Davidic king within God’s order of life in Israel and Judah, the wedding song takes on typological significance. Applicable to any descendant of David, it extols the privileged position of his people and sets forth God’s expectations of his appointed vassal on earth (cf. Psalms 2; 110).

A takeoff on the rich (Psalm 49)

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
1 ¶ Hear this, all peoples;
Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
2 Both low and high,
Rich and poor together.
3 My mouth shall speak wisdom,
And the meditation of my heart shall give understanding.
4 I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will disclose my dark saying on the harp.
5 Why should I fear in the days of evil,
When the iniquity at my heels surrounds me?
6 Those who trust in their wealth
And boast in the multitude of their riches,
7 None of them can by any means redeem his brother,
Nor give to God a ransom for him—
8 For the redemption of their souls is costly,
And it shall cease forever—
9 That he should continue to live eternally,
And not see the Pit.
10 For he sees wise men die;
Likewise the fool and the senseless person perish,
And leave their wealth to others.
11 Their inner thought is that their houses will last forever,
Their dwelling places to all generations;
They call their lands after their own names.
12 Nevertheless man, though in honor, does not remain;
He is like the beasts that perish.
13 This is the way of those who are foolish,
And of their posterity who approve their sayings.
14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave;
Death shall feed on them;
The upright shall have dominion over them in the morning;
And their beauty shall be consumed in the grave, far from their dwelling.
15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave,
For He shall receive me.
16 Do not be afraid when one becomes rich,
When the glory of his house is increased;
17 For when he dies he shall carry nothing away;
His glory shall not descend after him.
18 Though while he lives he blesses himself
(For men will praise you when you do well for yourself),
19 He shall go to the generation of his fathers;
They shall never see light.
20 A man who is in honor, yet does not understand,
Is like the beasts that perish.

We don't know who wrote this Psalm...perhaps David. We see in verse 1 that this is an instructive Psalm rather than one designed to give praise to God, "Hear this, all peoples; Give ear, all inhabitants of the world," Of course, David was rich. In this Psalm the Psalmist deals with the folly of trusting in your riches rather than God. Though one might have wealth, he is unable to use that wealth for direct eternal intervention as we see in verse 7, "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, Nor give to God a ransom for him." He expresses his confidence in eternal life in verse 15, an issue not dealt with frequently in the Old Testament. Notice verse 17, "For when he dies he shall carry nothing away; His glory shall not descend after him." Perhaps Paul had this verse in mind when he wrote in I Timothy 6:7 (see notes), "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out." While David (if he is the author) is poetic, Paul gets right to the point.

There's no place like home (Psalm 84)

To the Chief Musician. On an instrument of Gath. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
1 ¶ How lovely is Your tabernacle,
O LORD of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, even faints
For the courts of the LORD;
My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts,
My King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in Your house;
They will still be praising You.
5 Blessed is the man whose strength is in You,
Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
They make it a spring;
The rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
Each one appears before God in Zion.
8 O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer;
Give ear, O God of Jacob!
9 O God, behold our shield,
And look upon the face of Your anointed.
10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
12 O LORD of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!

The author is not known on this one. In the subtitle, Gath is a musical term of uncertain meaning. Perhaps it is a musical instrument. It is used in the subtitle of three different Psalms. Here, the Psalmist longs for God's dwelling place. This Psalm reminds me of the bumper sticker I saw, "My worst day of fishing is better than my best day at work." Verse 10 says, "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God Than dwell in the tents of wickedness." There's a promise in verse 11, "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; The LORD will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly."

A prayer for restoration (Psalm 85)

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.
1 ¶ LORD, You have been favorable to Your land;
You have brought back the captivity of Jacob.
2 You have forgiven the iniquity of Your people;
You have covered all their sin.
3 You have taken away all Your wrath;
You have turned from the fierceness of Your anger.
4 Restore us, O God of our salvation,
And cause Your anger toward us to cease.
5 Will You be angry with us forever?
Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?
6 Will You not revive us again,
That Your people may rejoice in You?
7 Show us Your mercy, LORD,
And grant us Your salvation.
8 I will hear what God the LORD will speak,
For He will speak peace
To His people and to His saints;
But let them not turn back to folly.
9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him,
That glory may dwell in our land.
10 Mercy and truth have met together;
Righteousness and peace have kissed.
11 Truth shall spring out of the earth,
And righteousness shall look down from heaven.
12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good;
And our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before Him,
And shall make His footsteps our pathway.

The words of this Psalm have led many scholars to place its writing at the time of the return from Babylonian exile. The references to a return to the land do make sense in that context, and David is not named as its author. You may recall in Ezra and Nehemiah how zealous for God the people of Israel were during this period. Click here to see the introduction to I Chronicles for more insight into this era. However, perhaps it is prophetic from David himself. No one knows for certain.

Jerusalem is quite a place (Psalm 87)

A Psalm of the sons of Korah. A Song.
1 ¶ His foundation is in the holy mountains.
2 The LORD loves the gates of Zion
More than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God!
4 “I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to those who know Me;
Behold, O Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia:
‘This one was born there.’|”
5 And of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”
6 The LORD will record,
When He registers the peoples:
“This one was born there.”
7 Both the singers and the players on instruments say,
“All my springs are in you.”

It's the city God founded, and there is no city like it on the earth. Jerusalem is presented here as a city of prestige. "Holy mountains" (verse 1), "Zion" (verse 2) and "city of God" (verse 3) are all distinct references to Jerusalem as the center of worship. The name "Rahab" in verse 4 is a reference to Egypt as it is also in Psalm 89:10 (see notes). This definitely places this Psalm to have been written in a time period after David established Jerusalem as the home of the Ark of the Covenant (II Samuel 6, see notes). This Psalm goes prophetic in verse 3, indicating the future glory of Jerusalem as the central city of the world. This is certainly a reference to the fact that prophetic writings and utterances from the prophets place Jerusalem as the point on the earth from which the Messiah will reign and the Davidic throne will be established.