Numbers 8 & Psalm 44

Numbers 8

    Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and say to him, When you set up the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand.” And Aaron did so: he set up its lamps in front of the lampstand, as the LORD commanded Moses. And this was the workmanship of the lampstand, hammered work of gold. From its base to its flowers, it was hammered work; according to the pattern that the LORD had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.

    And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the Levites from among the people of Israel and cleanse them. Thus you shall do to them to cleanse them: sprinkle the water of purification upon them, and let them go with a razor over all their body, and wash their clothes and cleanse themselves. Then let them take a bull from the herd and its grain offering of fine flour mixed with oil, and you shall take another bull from the herd for a sin offering. And you shall bring the Levites before the tent of meeting and assemble the whole congregation of the people of Israel. When you bring the Levites before the LORD, the people of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites, and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the LORD as a wave offering from the people of Israel, that they may do the service of the LORD. Then the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bulls, and you shall offer the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering to the LORD to make atonement for the Levites. And you shall set the Levites before Aaron and his sons, and shall offer them as a wave offering to the LORD.

    “Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the people of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine. And after that the Levites shall go in to serve at the tent of meeting, when you have cleansed them and offered them as a wave offering. For they are wholly given to me from among the people of Israel. Instead of all who open the womb, the firstborn of all the people of Israel, I have taken them for myself. For all the firstborn among the people of Israel are mine, both of man and of beast. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I consecrated them for myself, and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the people of Israel. And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among the people of Israel, to do the service for the people of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement for the people of Israel, that there may be no plague among the people of Israel when the people of Israel come near the sanctuary.”

    Thus did Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the people of Israel to the Levites. According to all that the LORD commanded Moses concerning the Levites, the people of Israel did to them. And the Levites purified themselves from sin and washed their clothes, and Aaron offered them as a wave offering before the LORD, and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them. And after that the Levites went in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron and his sons; as the LORD had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so they did to them.

    And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “This applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall come to do duty in the service of the tent of meeting. And from the age of fifty years they shall withdraw from the duty of the service and serve no more. They minister to their brothers in the tent of meeting by keeping guard, but they shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites in assigning their duties.”

(Numbers 8 ESV)

Psalm 44

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

    O God, we have heard with our ears,
        our fathers have told us,
    what deeds you performed in their days,
        in the days of old:
    you with your own hand drove out the nations,
        but them you planted;
    you afflicted the peoples,
        but them you set free;
    for not by their own sword did they win the land,
        nor did their own arm save them,
    but your right hand and your arm,
        and the light of your face,
        for you delighted in them.
    You are my King, O God;
        ordain salvation for Jacob!
    Through you we push down our foes;
        through your name we tread down those who rise up against us.
    For not in my bow do I trust,
        nor can my sword save me.
    But you have saved us from our foes
        and have put to shame those who hate us.
    In God we have boasted continually,
        and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah
    But you have rejected us and disgraced us
        and have not gone out with our armies.
    You have made us turn back from the foe,
        and those who hate us have gotten spoil.
    You have made us like sheep for slaughter
        and have scattered us among the nations.
    You have sold your people for a trifle,
        demanding no high price for them.
    You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
        the derision and scorn of those around us.
    You have made us a byword among the nations,
        a laughingstock among the peoples.
    All day long my disgrace is before me,
        and shame has covered my face
    at the sound of the taunter and reviler,
        at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
    All this has come upon us,
        though we have not forgotten you,
        and we have not been false to your covenant.
    Our heart has not turned back,
        nor have our steps departed from your way;
    yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
        and covered us with the shadow of death.
    If we had forgotten the name of our God
        or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
    would not God discover this?
        For he knows the secrets of the heart.
    Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
        we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.
    Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
        Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
    Why do you hide your face?
        Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
    For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
        our belly clings to the ground.
    Rise up; come to our help!
        Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

(Psalm 44 ESV)

Something to Consider

Psalm 44: This Psalm concerns those moments in life when God's people as a whole seem to be suffering some great affliction at the hands of their opposition and are seeking God’s help for relief. The Psalmist explains the way in which God has chosen His people, given them a special place in this world, and favored them over their opposition throughout history, and yet they still suffer this painful affliction. 

Singing or praying this particular Psalm in worship focuses on more than just simply making a request or plea for help. It reminds God's people of our privileged relationship with Him, our obligation for faith and devotion to Him, and of God’s unfailing faithfulness to His plans and purposes for His people no matter how our circumstances may seem. 

(Similar Psalms include Psalms 74; 77; 79; 80; and 83)