Psalm 22: The Cry of the Soul

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Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
    and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
    you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
    and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help.

12 Many bulls encompass me;
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.

16 For dogs encompass me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17 I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.

19 But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.

25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
    May your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations.

29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

Still Standing – A Study of a Roadside Tree #5 | Outside Elgin, TX | January 2023

Maybe you know someone given to extreme expressions of feelings and emotions. Hopefully they do not have Histrionic personality disorder (HPD). HPD is a mental health condition marked by unstable emotions, a distorted self-image and an overwhelming desire to be noticed. People with HPD often behave dramatically or inappropriately to get attention. More often we deal with people with bipolar disorders. One minute they’re highly joyful and effusive in happiness. The next day they are deeply sad and gravely depressed.

Some have suggested that David was such a one. Reading his psalms, you can surely sense strong emotions of great joy and deep distress. He cries, at the beginning of this psalm, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In later verses, he sings God’s praises:

22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

This is one of the reasons I love the psalms. They give expression to all kinds of emotions. From the depths of woe to the heights of joy, David and the other psalmists pour out their prayers to God. Sometimes I need that to put my joys and sorrows into words. They can also give me permission to be down. Sometimes life is not going well. Sometimes I am sad. God knows it already. And  he stands ready to hear us when we bring prayers of distress and sorrow to him. Not only is he not surprised by all this. He has promised, “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

While this Psalm expresses both distress and joy, it is surely known as a psalm of distress. If God has forsaken us, that is cause for distress. And David begins this psalm with that cry. Perhaps as David was on the run from Saul, he felt this deep sense of being forsaken. It might have been in the throes of his sin with Bathsheba and the death of their child, he felt this. Was it when his son Absalom rebelled against him he cried out so.

Followers of Jesus, however, cannot read this psalm without thinking of Jesus on the cross. He cries these words as he suffers so unjustly. Later this week, I’ll be reflecting more on Jesus’ prayer. For now, consider with me the way in which these words – written 1000 years before Jesus so clearly describe Jesus’ suffering and death. He did that for you and for me. He was forsaken so that we may never be forsaken by God.

English Standard Study Bible Chart

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