May 18th 2020 – Psalm 22

"To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

1 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."

Psalm 22

The first section is undoubtedly overshadowed by the awesome words in 1, 'My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?' Indeed, the question 'Why?' is a fundamental one. How it is that He, of whom the Father said, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased', was in such desolation? How is it that He who said 'I know that Thou hearest Me always' (John 11:42) should now say, 'Thou hearest not'? There is a double poignancy in 3-5, for they recall God's faithfulness in prayer in the past, but now - no answer, only black darkness, and the heavens as brass. It has been pointed out that the literal, physical torture of crucifixion is well depicted in 14, 15, and this is true; but it was not the physical torture that so appalled the spirit of Christ. The descriptions in 12, 13, indicate something spiritual. One thinks of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 15:32 where he speaks of fighting with wild beasts at Ephesus, referring surely to a spiritual conflict with principalities and powers, indicating the ferocity and intensity of the battle. To be hemmed in on all sides by terrible powers of evil - this was our Lord's experience. Above all, it was the separation from God that caused the agony - a disruption in the very Godhead itself - and all else in the Psalm is subsidiary to this, and all else - every expression of pain, suffering and agony - is simply an expression of this terrible dereliction. The picture we have here is one of Christ 'outside the gates of God'. If we ever wanted to know what it would be like to be in hell, this is what would describe it best - this agony, bodily, mental, and above all spiritual, desolation, forsakenness, dereliction, alone.

But none of the ransomed ever knew

How deep were the waters crossed

Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through

E'er He found His sheep that was lost.