Some thoughts/ Meditations on Romans 8:31-39 :
Psalm 44:22 appears in one of the most beloved, cherished, and celebrated texts in the New Testament, Romans 8 (“the GREAT EIGHT!”). The theme of God’s faithfulness is central in this chapter, and we see Paul giving this faithfulness a Christological emphasis. “If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else (Rom. 8:31-32)?” His point is that nothing and no one can ever separate the believer from the love of God that is found in Christ Jesus.
However, Paul by no means thinks the Christian life easy or without trouble. His own experiences as an apostle would fly in the face of such a conclusion. Right in the middle of his beautiful tribute to God’s everlasting love, he inserts Psalm 44:22. The Psalmist’s lament in 44:22 is over the defeat and exile of God’s people. Because God had not gone forth with the army into battle, the Israelites were slaughtered like sheep. It appears that the Psalmist actually refers to God as the cause of his suffering, and begs Him to stop and rise up in Israel’s defense. Interestingly, he also protects Israel’s innocence in the matter, suggesting that they are not suffering because of any disobedience. “If we have forgotten the name of our God and lifted our hands to another God, would not God search this out? For he knows the secrets of the heart” (Ps. 44:20-21).
Paul, it seems to me, interprets Psalm 44:22 to mean that the ‘guilt-free difficulties’ which face Christians are nothing new, and they should therefore be expected, for God’s people, from generation to generation, have always been charaterisized by tribulation. Anyone who gives themselves whole-heartedly to God can expect trouble in the world. This is the principle that Paul points to, and it is echoed throughout Scripture. Jesus Himself testified to its truth when he said, “In the world you will have trouble. But, take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Trial is surely not the end of the story for the Christian. Paul urges his fellow believers to accept their tribulations, knowing that nothing can separate them from the love of Christ.
It is important to point out that the imagery of “sheep to be slaughtered” is also found in the suffering servant text of Isaiah 53 (53:7). Quotations from Isaiah 53 are directly applied to Christ throughout the New Testament (Matt. 8:17, Luke 22:37, Acts 8:32-33, and 1 Peter 2:22-25). Paul understood that the righteous would suffer just as Christ their lord had suffered – in innocence. The disciple is not greater than the master. More-than-that, Paul seems to deem that very suffering as the glory of the disciple. It is there that he is most like his Lord.
No matter the situation, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. I say AMEN to that.