Commentators are unsure when this psalm was written. It could have been during the period of the changing fortunes of Israel during the reign of the kings. It could have been later around 586 BC when the Jews had been exiled from Israel by the Babylonians or even, 450 years after that during the days of the Maccabees. Whenever it was, however, it speaks of Israel in a season of great defeat and calling upon God to rescue them.
There are 6 separate sections:
1) v1-3 retell God’s victory on behalf of Israel when under Joshua they drove out the Canaanites and entered the Promised Land.
2) v4-8 state that the Psalmist puts no trust in anything he can do, but only in the power of God.
3) v9-16 contain cries of disappointment that the God with whom they had made a covenant was no longer fighting for them.
4) v17-19 remind God that His people had in fact kept faith with Him and should not therefore have been punished thus, as those who had sinned would have been.
5) v20-22 state that had they been sinners, God would have known that anyway because nothing is unknown to Him.
6) v23-26 contain a plea and a prayer of hope that God will rescue them.
The journey from beginning to end could be: God, when I was a little child, my parents used to tell me of times when You saved them from the hard things they were facing because they trusted in You and prayed to You. They told me they had won many battles in their lives with Your help. In fact, God, my own experience as someone who tries to follow You, tells me that I am not able do anything without You. So, why am I struggling so much with the feeling that You have left me to my own devices on this one? I have examined my conscience and confessed my sins. I have talked to my friends and the leaders of my church and I have come to You constantly in prayer, but You really don’t seem to be on my side at the moment. And You know me full well. There is no point pretending to be anything I am not. I am here again, offering myself to You and pleading with You. Please rescue me! I know You love me and want the best for me. Please come, Lord.
Lord, wherever I am in this process of discerning your will in my life, I pray that today I will move a step nearer to knowing your love and experiencing the hope of Your presence.