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NIV 1 Kings 18:27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened."

Psalm 44:23 Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.

What was the psalmist attitude when he wrote this?

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The psalmist doe NOT taunt God. However, as humans we are often frustrated by God's apparent lack of action. That is, human language is used to talk to God and express human fears and hopes.

  • Ps 13:1 - How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
  • Ps 94:3 - How long, LORD, will the wicked, how long will the wicked be jubilant?
  • Hab 1:2 - How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?
  • Ps 89:46 - How long, LORD? Will you hide yourself forever? How long will your wrath burn like fire?
  • Ps 35:17 - How long, O Lord, will You look on? Rescue my soul from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.
  • Ps 79:5 - How long, O LORD? Will You be angry forever? Will Your jealousy burn like fire?
  • Ps 6:3 - My soul is deeply distressed. How long, O LORD, how long?
  • Ps 80:4 - O LORD God of Hosts, how long will Your anger smolder against the prayers of Your people?

Ps 44:23 is in keeping with the impatient cry of sinners for God to act. Unfortunately, this psalm also recognizes that the calamities have come upon them because of their unfaithfulness (V9-12), and that Judah has become a reproach among the surrounding nations (V13-16), because of their stubbornness (V17-19).

In V23-26 the Sons of Korah encourage God to rise up and act to redeem the people. This is a simple pea to God to (effectively) forgive wickedness and restore their fortunes, despite their unfaithfulness.

The Cambridge commentary has this:

  1. Awake … arise] Bestir thyself … awake. Cp. Psalm 7:6, and many similar invocations. But nowhere else do we find so bold an expostulation as why sleepest thou? The nearest parallel is in Psalm 78:65. The Psalmists do not shrink from using human language in reference to God, though they well knew that the Watchman of Israel was one who neither slumbered nor slept (Psalm 121:3-4).

It is recorded in the Talmud that in the time of the high-priest John Hyrcanus (b.c. 135–107) certain Levites, called ‘Awakeners,’ daily ascended the pulpit in the Temple and cried, “Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord”? He put a stop to the practice, saying, “Does Deity sleep? Has not the Scripture said, ‘Behold he that keepeth Israel neither slumbereth nor sleepeth?’ ”

The pulpit commentary is also helpful:

Verses 23-26. - The appeal to God is now made, after the case has been fully represented. God has always hitherto maintained the cause of his people, and given them victory over their enemies, unless they had fallen away from him (vers. 1-8). Now he has acted otherwise - he has allowed their enemies to triumph (vers. 9-16). And they have given him no reason for his desertion of them (vers. 17-22). Surely, if they call upon him, and plead their cause before him, he will relent, and come to their aid. The appeal, therefore, is made briefly, but in the most moving terms. Verse 23. - Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord? The psalmist does not really believe that Jehovah "sleeps." The heathen might so imagine of their gods (1 Kings 18:27), but not an Israelite. An Israelite would be sure that "he that keepeth Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps" (Psalm 121:4). The writer consciously uses an anthropomorphism, really intending only to call on God to rouse himself from his inaction, and lay it aside, and come to Israel's aid. Arise (see Psalm 7:6; Psalm 9:19; Psalm 10:12, etc.). Cast us not off for ever (comp. ver. 9). Under the existing peril, for God to cast off his people will be to cast them off for ever. They had no strength of their own that could save them.

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