Psalm 22: The Cry of True Hope

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is dbr-podcast-link-graphic-e1650918496934.jpg

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 #8 | Outside Elgin, TX | January 2023

Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great identified the “Stockdale Paradox,” named after Admiral James Stockdale. Stockdale was one of the most decorated United States Navy officers, who was also awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War. As a prisoner of war from 1965 to 1973, Stockdale was tortured over 20 times, had no prisoner’s rights, no release date, and no idea of whether he would survive to see his family again. Yet, he survived when many of his co-prisoners didn’t.

He did so by facing the brutal facts of his situation, but never giving up hope of being freed. 

“I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.” – James Bond Stockdale

His was not a hope oblivious of his dreadful situation.

“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”  – James Bond Stockdale

Stockdale might have learned this from this very Psalm. David faces the brutal facts; no question about that. He pictures himself surrounded by dogs, bones out of joint, abandoned by God. But he also reflects a hope in the goodness, faithfulness, justice, and mercy of God.

Look at the last ⅓ of the psalm. It’s filled with hope, beginning with “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.” (v. 22). And ending with

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.

Those are words of hope. Real hope. Not denying the grave agony and urgent distress of the current troubles, but holding to hope in the end. Such is the cry of true hope.

You may be facing nearly insurmountable challenges, subject to unimaginable stress, or feeling grave difficulties. God does not want you to deny these brutal facts. But neither does he want you to give up hope. He is good. And our hope has been secured in the One who quotes this psalm from the cross. Our Lord Jesus remained faithful to the very end, and now has the name above every name. At the name of Jesus Christ, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. We who hope in him will prevail.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: