Scripture

Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

Reflection

In the beginning of Psalm 22 is a deep cry of lament. The writer feels abandoned, and yet…..a few lines later the same writer offers praises to God for deliverance. At once, the Psalmist was desperate for a word from God, and at the same time, he was convinced of God’s goodness. He recognized God’s goodness and faithfulness not only in the deliverance of others, but also in his own life. God had guided the Psalmist since birth, so there was hope and faith that God would continue to do so.

 

The first line of this Psalm is not famous in modern times because of the Psalm itself, but because of its placement in two of the four Gospels. Matthew 27 and Mark 15 both recall Jesus’ final words as these from Psalm 22:1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Many people think those words are uttered by Jesus because he does feel like God has abandoned him. Most scholars, however, believe Jesus was calling the hearer to the full Psalm, not just the first line. In the first century, the Jewish people would tout lines of scripture as a reminder of their faith and their history. Jesus was telling the people, not that God had forsaken him, but that though it seemed this way, God was a God who could be trusted. Though it seemed to observers that deliverance had not come to Jesus, he knew better. He knew God would provide victory in the resurrection.

 

There have been many times in my own journey that I felt abandoned, forsaken by God. But with hindsight, I have always been able to see that God was there all along. Recognizing this has strengthened my faith and lessened the feelings of abandonment that may appear from time to time. God’s timing is not my timing and God’s ways are not my ways. If you are in that forsaken time right now, please grab hold of the faith the Psalmist offers us, the same faith Jesus reminded us of on the cross. 

Prayer

Dear Lord, teach me to hear, lead me to see and guide me to heed your words. Let these words from the Psalms infuse my soul. I trust you, Oh Holy One. I submit fully to your will for my life. Lead me on the path of righteousness and forgive me for the ways may I fail. May your grace be born anew for me each day. Amen.