My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?Why are You so far from helping Me,And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;And in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy,Enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You;They trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered;They trusted in You, and were not ashamed. But I am a worm, and no man;A reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me;They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him;Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!” But You are He who took Me out of the womb;You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth.From My mother’s wombYou have been My God. Be not far from Me,For trouble is near;For there is none to help. Many bulls have surrounded Me;Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me. They gape at Me with their mouths,Like a raging and roaring lion. I am poured out like water,And all My bones are out of joint;My heart is like wax;It has melted within Me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd,And My tongue clings to My jaws;You have brought Me to the dust of death. For dogs have surrounded Me;The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones.They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them,And for My clothing they cast lots. But You, O Lord, do not be far from Me;O My Strength, hasten to help Me! Deliver Me from the sword,My precious life from the power of the dog. Save Me from the lion’s mouthAnd from the horns of the wild oxen!You have answered Me. I will declare Your name to My brethren;In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the Lord, praise Him!All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him,And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted;Nor has He hidden His face from Him;But when He cried to Him, He heard. My praise shall be of You in the great assembly;I will pay My vows before those who fear Him. The poor shall eat and be satisfied;Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.Let your heart live forever! All the ends of the worldShall remember and turn to the Lord,And all the families of the nationsShall worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord’s,And He rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earthShall eat and worship;All those who go down to the dustShall bow before Him,Even he who cannot keep himself alive. A posterity shall serve Him.It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born,That He has done this.
Psalm 22: 1-30
In June 6, 1944, human destiny changed forever. Allied forces took their enemies by surprise in implementing the largest military invasion from the sea in human history. Five thousand ships comprised the armada joined by thirteen thousand aircraft. By nightfall on that fateful day, 156,000 Allied soldiers were on the ground.
D-Day established the beachhead and opened the way for another million troops by July 1. With the perspective of history, we can now look back and realize that World War II was won because D-Day was successful.
Psalm 22 takes us back to God’s D-Day, the cross of Jesus Christ. Eight hundred years before our Lord’s death in Jerusalem, David prophetically writes the prayer which Jesus used to sustain himself in the final moments of suffering on the cross: “From the sixth hour(noon) until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour(3 pm) Jesus cried out in a loud voice….’My God, My God why have you forsaken me?’”(Matthew 27: 45-46). In those last gasps, Jesus did not have voice or strength to utter more than the first words of Psalm 22.
Psalm 22 is a psalm of sobs interlaced with songs. There are three sobs- moments of excruciating painful emotions in which Jesus describes how it feels to be executed on the cross: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent. But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.(verses 1,2)
Interspersed between the sobs are songs of great confidence in the care of God. In this contrast, Jesus models for us how to face personal suffering. From this we can know that it’s acceptable to tell God how we feel: that we feel forsaken, we are groaning and crying day and night without any sign of an answer, that we feel worthless and mistreated, torn apart, poured out, melted away, dried up, and overwhelmed with incredible pain and agony.
We can’t just stop at telling God our feelings, we must also declare our faith in Him and His promises. We may feel like we’re on the cross, but God is still on the throne and no one who has trusted Him has ever been disappointed for doing so. David reminds us that God has watched over us from birth(verses 9, 10), and no one else can help me but Him(verse 11) and in the end, I will be rescued and God’s cause in me will triumph(verses 19-31).
This psalm was written specifically for Jesus to be prayed by Him in those final hours on the cross. It describes those hours of loneliness, abandonment, and excruciating hurt and suffering.
When David writes this psalm, crucifixion had not yet been used as a means of execution, yet the Holy Spirit wrote with David’s pen the exact description of Jesus on the cross.
George Wood shares this story: “An attorney friend came to the Lord through this psalm. He had been a hardened and haughty agnostic. In hopes of soliciting business, he had gone to a Christian gathering. For devotions, the speaker read from Psalm 22. My friend knew nothing about the Bible, and he assumed what was being read had to do with an early Christian account of Christ’s crucifixion. When the speaker said the psalm was written eight centuries before Christ, he was stunned. How could something written hundreds of years earlier have such a complete fulfillment in Jesus? He accepted the only plausible answer: Jesus must have been indeed sent to us by God to bear our sins.”
Sometimes we who are believers are misunderstood when we talk about the cross and the resurrection of Christ as the victory of God for us. Our non-Christian friends may ask us how we can speak of God’s love and victory when there is yet so much disease, adversity, sorrow and injustice in the world. Our answer is this: While D-Day was described as the key turning point of World War II, between it and VE-day(Victory in Europe-May 8, 1945), there were more casualties than any other period of the war. However, because of D-Day, the final result was only a matter of time.
The victory of Christ in the battle with the devil, sin, illness and evil on the cross turned the tide. He invaded planet Earth with His divine love and it is indeed only a matter of time before every knee bows and every tongue confesses that He is indeed Lord.
You and I don’t have to wait for that moment. We can have a D-Day experience today if we will turn our heart to God in repentance and confession of our sin. We might not get total victory and there might be battles ahead but today can be our turning point in the battle against sin. It is true that the war won’t be over until Christ reigns fully over the earth, but we can win battles that will cumulate in the final victory that the cross began. I’m sure that between D-Day and VE-Day there were some dark days. I’m sure that there were those who might have thought that D-Day ought to have been the day of surrender by the enemy. Just as I’m sure there are those who don’t understand why that the world didn’t immediately become a better place after the crucifixion and resurrection. In both cases, the enemy dug in and increased resistance but the trumpet of ultimate defeat could be heard in the enemy’s camp.
Someone said that when the devil brings up your past, you ought to bring up his future. In our trials and struggles, Hebrews tells us to look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. Our victory began at the cross and it will be complete at the coming of Jesus. Until then, keep the faith, engage the enemy, and trust God for the victory.
Psalm 22 models how we should respond to suffering but we must not appropriate too much of it for ourselves. It belongs uniquely to Jesus in His D-Day that He won for us. We can, however, take heart and find hope in knowing that already the tide of the war has turned and the day will come when we enjoy the spoils of the final victory that Christ will win for us. Jesus left us with these words of hope as He described the final days: “When you see all these things coming to pass(increased calamities), lift up your head and rejoice for your redemption is drawing nigh.”
Dr. John Thompson