Matthew Henry's Commentary
44:1-8 Former experiences of God's power and goodness are strong supports to faith, and powerful pleas in prayer under present calamities. The many victories Israel obtained, were not by their own strength or merit, but by God's favour and free grace. The less praise this allows us, the more comfort it affords, that we may see all as coming from the favour of God. He fought for Israel, else they had fought in vain. This is applicable to the planting of the Christian church in the world, which was not by any human policy or power. Christ, by his Spirit, went forth conquering and to conquer; and he that planted a church for himself in the world, will support it by the same power and goodness. They trusted and triumphed in and through him. Let him that glories, glory in the Lord. But if they have the comfort of his name, let them give unto him the glory due unto it.
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.
But thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us.
In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah.
But thou hast cast off, and put us to shame; and goest not forth with our armies.
44:9-16 The believer must have times of temptation, affliction, and discouragement; the church must have seasons of persecution. At such times the people of God will be ready to fear that he has cast them off, and that his name and truth will be dishonoured. But they should look above the instruments of their trouble, to God, well knowing that their worst enemies have no power against them, but what is permitted from above.
Thou makest us to turn back from the enemy: and they which hate us spoil for themselves.
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,
For the voice of him that reproacheth and blasphemeth; by reason of the enemy and avenger.
All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.
44:17-26 In afflictions, we must not seek relief by any sinful compliance; but should continually meditate on the truth, purity, and knowledge of our heart-searching God. Hearts sins and secret sins are known to God, and must be reckoned for. He knows the secret of the heart, therefore judges of the words and actions. While our troubles do not drive us from our duty to God, we should not suffer them to drive us from our comfort in God. Let us take care that prosperity and ease do not render us careless and lukewarm. The church of God cannot be prevailed on by persecution to forget God; the believer's heart does not turn back from God. The Spirit of prophecy had reference to those who suffered unto death, for the testimony of Christ. Observe the pleas used, ver. 25,26. Not their own merit and righteousness, but the poor sinner's pleas. None that belong to Christ shall be cast off, but every one of them shall be saved, and that for ever. The mercy of God, purchased, promised, and constantly flowing forth, and offered to believers, does away every doubt arising from our sins; while we pray in faith, Redeem us for thy mercies' sake.
Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way;
Though thou hast 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.
Yea, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.
Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? arise, cast us not off for ever.
Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and forgettest our affliction and our oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust: our belly cleaveth unto the earth.
Arise for our help, and redeem us for thy mercies' sake.