I’ve preached through Romans 8:31-39 quite a few times in my ministry. And I’ll be honest and say that I’ve always kind of skimmed over verse 36. It’s seemed a bit awkward to me. Why in the world does Paul throw that verse in there?

I’ve understood for awhile that what Paul is doing in quoting that verse is connecting the suffering of Christians with the people of God in the OT. Just as it was their lot to suffer we should know that it is our lot to suffer as well and yet our suffering doesn’t separate us from the love of Christ.

But I didn’t really use verse 36 as a major note in the text. I think that’ll change now. I spent a good deal of time reading through and meditating on Psalm 44 today (that’s where the quotation comes from).

Can you imagine singing Psalm 44 in your church?

It recounts the history of God in dealing with his people. Those in whom the Lord delights he rescues. That’s His record. Until it isn’t. And that’s what has the Psalmist struggling.

They have lost in battle. They are suffering. They are being taunted. They are even being slaughtered. I think they could stomach that if they were being ungodly or idiotic. But they aren’t. They are being faithful to the covenant, and what’s really unsettling. Bad things are happening to good people.

So Psalm 44 is really a lament that is asking God why in the world he is doing the things that he’s doing. It’s a people saying that God isn’t making a lick of sense but they know He’s their only rescue and so their going to hang on—but they are deeply discouraged and filled with questions. We don’t sing like this in our congregations.

And that’s a shame because according to Romans 8 this is still our song. Psalm 44 is still going to happen to you as a Christian. That means you are going to at times feel like God has “sold his people for a trifle”. We’re still going to be a laughing stock to the nations. The sword will still turn on us and we are still going to be afflicted and oppressed when we’ve done nothing wrong and it’ll feel like God is just hiding his face from us. And that’s going to hurt.

“Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!”

That prayer has been answered through God sending His Son as our Rescuer and Redeemer. That’s an already thing. But the use of Psalm 44 in Romans 8 also paints a “not-yet” over that triumph. Psalm 44 is going to happen to you but it isn’t going to separate you from the love of Christ. Why? Because in Christ our slaughter isn’t the end of the story. Because His slaughter wasn’t the end of the story.

So rather than Paul just pulling Psalm 44 out to connect it to the Old Testament, I think it’s actually pretty central to his thought in Romans 8. Creation is groaning. We are suffering. Yet the Lion of the tribe of Judah who himself is a slaughtered Lamb reigns victorious. And because we are united to him, we too shall overcome.