Daily in the Psalms : Psalm 22
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. Psalms 22:1-5
I believe this chapter is a picture of the suffering of Christ, but it can also be applied to any suffering believer. It can also be applied to the Church during times of persecution. Suffering is one of the unfortunate aspects of every human life; no one is exempt. Many times during times of suffering the voice is raised toward Heaven in a ceaseless wail. Just as there is great joy when we are blessed, there is great sadness when our soul is plunged into darkness and despair. The most bitter part of suffering is when we feel we have been forsaken. It is when we face our dark valleys without a hand to help, a voice to cheer, or a light to guide. Words cannot do justice to the feelings of anguish felt by those who have to suffer alone.
The words “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” are not the words of a rebel or one that doubted God. It was not the cry of one that was accusing God. It was the cry of a lost child that cannot understand why his father has forsaken him. He is longing to see the face of his father. As we think of these words coming from our Saviour, our human mind really cannot comprehend it. But we can relate to those words coming from the troubled soul of a man. Jesus was literally alone in this world as He bore our sins on the cross, but many times we find ourselves feeling loneliness akin to His.
This is a cry that says, “I cannot understand this darkness. I have not forsaken Thee; I pray day and night.” Many times we are so caught up in getting an answer to our prayer that we don’t realize the sweet privilege of prayer. Prayer is one of the great resources of the troubled soul. Even if our deliverance does not come as quickly as we desire, we must not abandon prayer. The more intense our trouble, the more intense and vocal our prayer must be. The door of Heaven may seem to be tightly shut; we must not leave that door because in God’s time, it will open! The greatest pain we can have is to feel as though our prayers are not heard. But when we do not give up praying, even in the midst of pain, we will move to a higher level, realizing that God will never leave us or forsake us. The darkness and the perceived silence can be broken by the words of God’s child crying out in prayer. God’s delay must be seen as an opportunity for us to more earnestly pray.
I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. Luke 11:8
As frightening as the darkness may be, as intense as the pain may be, we must never lose our hold on God. The words “My God, My God” are words of trust. Trusting in the time when we feel alone is a great demonstration of true faith.
WE CAN TRUST IN THE CHARACTER OF GOD
The holiness of God includes His faithfulness and mercy. The more we feel the results of sin in our own lives, the more we feel the holiness of our God. Jesus drew strength on the cross from the absolute holiness of the Father. He was weighed down with the sins of the world, but He remembered the holiness of God. We must never question the holiness of God, but we can use it as we plea for deliverance from our trouble. The words “Thou art holy” must completely overshadow the words “Why hast thou forsaken me,”
WE CAN TRUST IN THE HISTORY OF GOD’S PEOPLE BEING DELIVERED BY HIM
Three times we see the words “They trusted” and only once do we see the words “They cried.” There was no reason to doubt that God could deliver because He had done it so many times in the past. If God could deliver the sinful nation of Israel when they called on Him, how much more was He willing and able to deliver His Sinless Son?
We can also trust what God has done in the past. We are but human and God gives us these verses to remind us that our present trust is birthed in past experience. We will most of the time be disappointed when we trust in man, but we will never be disappointed when we trust in God! Suffering will bring us to our lowest point and cause us to feel forsaken. Prayer is our most valuable weapon in trouble. When we can do nothing else, we can trust God.
THE LONELINESS OF SUFFERING
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. Psalms 22:6-18
The first step to defeat is to sink in the sight of others; the next step is to sink in our own sight. Extreme suffering can plunge the mind into gloom and fill it with untrue thoughts. If we are not careful we can lose all sense of worth. These are the words of utter desperation. Not only was he suffering, he was humiliated by others as they laughed and scorned. It is very painful to have the added suffering of ridicule heaped upon us. Especially when our enemies seem to be prospering. But when we are totally helpless the Devil is more than willing to make things even worse by sending along those that will utter cruel and unbearable accusations against our God. These are the deepest wounds for a Christian because he loves his God more than he loves himself. The true child of God would rather suffer a river of shame than to have one drop fall on the Name of our God. The wicked mocking of the ungodly will take the last shred of hope from the saved. But the Bible tells us that if we are to be true followers of Christ, we must be ready and willing to bear the world’s most severe contempt.
The God that had taken care of the Psalmist for all the days of his life would not leave him to perish in the darkness of this trial. It is too easy to forget the God that gave us our first breath and has provided our every need when we could not care for ourselves. The innocent joy of our childhood was the result of the goodness of God. Remembering how God took care of us when we could not care for ourselves will cause us to cling to Him in the troubled times now that we are older. God began His care for us from the very beginning of our life, and He will not forsake us in the end. We have always been pacified upon His knee of mercy and cherished on His lap of goodness; we have always been cradled in His love and guided by His hand. The God that cared for us from our mother’s womb will care for us until we return to the dust of the earth.
THE SONG OF DELIVERANCE
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel. For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard. My praise shall be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my vows before them that fear him. The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the nations. All they that be fat upon earth shall eat and worship: all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him: and none can keep alive his own soul. A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.
They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this. Psalms 22:22-31
This is where we see and distinct change in the tone of this Psalm. Light breaks through the dark suffering, despair gives place to hope, and the prospect of deliverance fills the soul with gratitude and joy. The deliverance of the Saviour and the consequent deliverance of men from sin is cause for great celebration and singing. Our celebration ought to declare the Name of the Lord and to make known what He has done. It should be a public celebration for everyone to hear of the great and wonderful things that God has done for those that were afflicted and utterly lost. The suffering of the righteous are according to the purpose and plan of God. It is a celebration for all Christians. All true worshipers are called to praise Him. The humble awe of God is a necessary preparation for praise. Holy fear must always constrain our worship and singing. When Jesus is leading the praise, only holy lips dare to sing. Praise is always accompanied with gratitude. That is why praise includes vows and promises to the One that has delivered us. The grateful heart will praise God with a full-handed generosity and will delight in giving. Our salvation ought to add to the joy of others. Praise is always totally about the Deliverer. Those that have sunk beneath the help of man are never out of the reach of God. When we remember the horrors from which we have been delivered, our praise will be to Him and be filled with gratitude.
Praise will bring great satisfaction. When the greatness and goodness of God are made known, it will satisfy the deepest cravings of the human heart.
All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. Psalms 22:27
The heathen may forget God, but they are never forgotten by Him. They may ignore His Word, but they can never destroy it. When deliverance comes to the Godly, the ungodly are convicted and drawn to Him. God offers deliverance to all men, regardless of their creed or race. At His table, all guest are poor and He is rich. The Good News of deliverance is the hope of all nations. The deliverance of God is the hope of all men. God’s people rejoicing over their deliverance is the way God shows them His love. The work of redemption is a great work and must be celebrated by the redeemed. Each generation must carry on this celebration in order for hope to continue. God’s Church, though pierced, peeled, and wounded by it’s enemies, still lives today and it still grows, produces, and is protected by God’s good hand. That Church which can never perish must always hold out the hand of hope to the lost.
So Glad To Be So Saved
Danny "Preacher" Bezet