May 20th 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 second part of the Psalm (22-31) deals with 'the glory that should follow'. The RV renders 22 more graphically than the AV - 'Save me from the mouth of the lion, and from the horns of the wild oxen - Thou hast answered me'. There is a wonderful paradox there in these two parts of the Psalm. It is because God did not answer Him in the first sense that He was answered in the second. It was because, as P.T. Forsyth beautifully puts it, God was strong enough to resist pity until grief had done its gracious work in His Son, that Christ's prayer in John 17 was answered and salvation was won for the children of men. The name of God as Saviour is made known through the sufferings of the Son (22-26). The sufferings of Christ has won for Him a kingdom (28). As Paul puts it in Philippians 2:5ff, it is because He was obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross, that God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. Such is the nature of His kingdom, and in it rich and poor alike are blessed (29), for great and small, lofty and low alike must take the lowly place and receive the food of their souls as the gift of His grace. The words in 30, 'a seed shall serve Him...' are rendered in the modern renderings as 'Posterity shall serve Him'; but it is perhaps better construed as that one generation of worshippers will proclaim the message of grace to the next, and they in turn will pass on that message to their children, as yet unborn. But tell what? That He hath done this. The original simply has 'He hath done' and this echoes a mighty New Testament cry, 'Telelestai', the Greek word translated in the gospels as 'It is finished'. Each generation will tell out the finished work of Christ to the children of men.