Psalm 22: Wait… Is that you, Jesus?
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. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. 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. 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.
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
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.
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him— may your hearts live forever!
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, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
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. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!
Have you ever been out, and you think that you see your friend in the distance so you start waving and calling their name? As you call their name, you notice they are not responding, so obviously they can’t hear you, so you yell louder. They seem to be looking past you, so you wave even more wildly as you walk closer. AND THEN… the horror. You realize that that is not your friend… awkward. My friend Annabel did this once in college. She used to sneak up on our other friend Laura and jump on her back. We were walking down Library Walk, the main thoroughfare of campus, when we saw Laura walking ahead of us. Annabel takes off and jumps on her back only to realize moments later she had jumped on a stranger.
Then there are other times where you see someone, and maybe you have had a horrifying experience already mistaking someone, so you are looking, squinting, trying to figure out if the person in the distance is who you think it is. You just don’t want to make that horrifying mistake again. Well, one time I was down at the Martinez marina walking Teddy, when my parents drive up to go for a walk too. We hadn’t planned to meet, we just happened to be there at the same time. As I start to walk up to them to say hi, my mom looks my direction and says, “That lady’s dog looks like Teddy.” My dad looks and agrees with her. Then they turn away and start to walk away. They totally didn’t recognize me. Their own daughter! I had to chase them down to say hello.
This is a new kind of psalm for us. It is a messianic psalm, which means it is about Jesus. Psalm 22 is quoted in the gospels, as well as Hebrews 2:10-12. We may not know how this psalm related exactly to the author’s personal experience, but we do know that David was a prophet (Acts 2:30), and in this psalm he wrote about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As you read it, did you recognize Jesus in the psalm?
David is the author of this psalm, but historians have a difficult time finding a specific time in his life that would match this psalm. According to what we know about the life of David, the Lord never deserted him in his hour of need but always provided friends to help him and deliverance from his enemies. The intense suffering described here isn’t that of a sick man in bed or a soldier in battle. It’s the description of a criminal being executed!
The first part (vv. 1-21) focuses on prayer and suffering and takes us to the cross, while the second part (vv. 22-31) announces the resurrection and expresses praise to the glory of God. But we also see this psalm open with some very familiar words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” We see Jesus say this in Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 as he hung on the cross. Forsaken means forgotten or abandoned. Jesus knew what it felt like to fell like God had forsaken him, as he hung on the cross, taking on the heaviness of our sin. God does not leave us, abandon us, forget us, or forsake us. God is with us, whether we feel His presence or not.
Challenge: Grab your journal and take some time to reflect on these questions:
- Have you even felt forgotten? When?
- Read back through the psalm, where do you notice Jesus in this psalm?
- What is one way Jesus has shown up for you in the last week or so?