The people pray for help in a time of national catastrophe, fearing that they have been rejected and cast off by God.
This is a lament of the community, apparently at a time of military defeat. Where was God? they wonder. In a refrain common in every age, they cry that God used to do great things but that they do not see such deeds in their own time (vv. 1-3, 9-12). Nor do they understand that their troubles are a result of their turning away from God (vv. 17-22). Indeed, they are suffering, as they see it, precisely because they have been faithful (v. 22). They cry to God, “Rouse yourself!” for it seems that God must surely be asleep.
A psalm is a song of praise. In the Old Testament 150 psalms comprise the psalter, although some of the psalms are laments and thanksgivings. In the New Testament early Christians gathered to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. More 44 is honest in its language, if not cautious. Do they see themselves too quickly as blameless? Is their accusation of God blasphemous? Perhaps, but it is real, and God will hear this prayer, too. In the face of such spiritual torment, the psalmist knows there is nowhere else to turn: “Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love” (v. 26).