Psalm 22 is the painful cry of one who feels alone and forgotten by God.
David gives us words to express the agony of feeling forsaken. And he gives us a path forward when it seems we are all alone.
David is honest with God.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry out by day,
but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent. (v. 1-2)
David does not try to hide his emotions or his questions from God. Instead, he is brutally honest and persistent, crying out and groaning before God.
David remembers God’s faithfulness in the past.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed. (v. 3-5)
Such a powerful word, the switch that changes the climate of the heart from despair to hope.
I feel forsaken. YET. You are on the throne.
I feel abandoned. YET. You deliver those who trust in you.
I feel deserted. YET. You do not disappoint those who trust in you.
David describes his circumstances.
David tells God how he has been treated by his enemies. He has been mocked for his trust in the LORD, despised, and insulted. These attacks leave David feeling weak and discouraged.
David continues to call on God to help.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near and there is no one to help. (v. 11)
But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me. (v. 19)
Despite his circumstances and their crushing emotional toll, David continues to pray, recognizing that God alone can help.
David vows to praise God when he is delivered.
I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you. (v. 22)
For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help. (v. 24)
David has faith that God will deliver him. And even before his rescue, he sets his intentions on praising God. He imagines joining his brothers and “all the families of the nations” (v. 27) in praise and worship, knowing that God rules with righteousness.
Psalm 22 is often quoted in the New Testament.
When Jesus was on the cross, the words of Psalm 22 were on his lips.
Like David, Jesus was despised by his enemies. He was mocked on the cross with the same words that David’s enemies used. “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him.” (Psalm 22:8; Matthew 27:43). David’s enemies divided his garments among themselves and cast lots for his clothing (Psalm 22:18). The enemies of Jesus did the same while he was on the cross (John 19:23-24).
And when the weight of the sin of the world was laid upon Jesus on the cross, God, in HIs holiness, turned His back on His one and only Son. Jesus cried out the words of Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
Jesus was forsaken by God on the cross in our place.
He was separated from His Father to make a relationship with God possible for us.
Timothy Keller writes of this in his book, “Prayer”:
The only time in all the gospels that Jesus Christ prays to God and doesn’t call him Father is on the cross, when he says, “My God, my God, why have you forgotten me? Why have you forsaken me?” Jesus lost his relationship with the Father so the we could have a relationship with God as father. Jesus was forgotten so that we could be remembered forever – from everlasting to everlasting. Jesus Christ bore all the eternal punishment that our sins deserve. That is the cost of prayer. Jesus paid the price so God could be our father. (pg. 79-80)
He paid for our sins so that we don’t have to be.
Circumstances may make us feel we are forgotten.
But because of the cross, we have a Father who remembers us forever.
Because of the cross, we are not forsaken.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…
2 Corinthians 4:8-9
Father, thank you that I can be honest with you about my emotions and questions. Thank you for the psalms that give words to my groanings. Thank you for the cross, for Jesus dying in my place for my sins. Jesus was forsaken so that I wouldn’t have to be. Jesus made it possible for me so to call you Father. Thank you, Father, for this great salvation. I will praise you. Amen.