Scripture: Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Psalm 22:9-11 ESV
Observation: This Psalm of David self-describes David’s agony over feeling forsaken by God as enemies press in on him. Yet, his heartfelt words would prove to be prophetic of the means and anguish of the Son of God’s passion. Indeed, Jesus would recite the opening line (My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?) while hanging from his cross (Matthew 27:46). Here are four others:
- Verse 7, “They hurl insults, shaking their heads,” quoted in Mark 15:29; Matthew 27:39
- Verse 8, “He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him,” quoted in Matthew 27:43
- Verse 16 “a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet,” cited in Mathew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:33 and 24:40, and John 19:23, 37 and 20:25
- Verse 18, “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment,” quoted in Mark 15:24; Matthew 27:35; Luke 23:34; John 19:24
Still, these prophetic words of David are not distant from his present circumstances. The expressions of anguish that foreshadow Christ’s crucifixion first capture David’s bewilderment and frustration. Nevertheless, David is not without hope. In the second half of his psalter (verses 22-31), David shifts from lamenting and crying for help to declaring God’s goodness and blessings and how the Lord is worthy of our Praise. And once again, an element of this messianic psalm points us to Jesus. Verse 22, “I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you,” is quoted by the author of Hebrews to contend that Jesus is the founder of our salvation (2:12).
Takeaway: This “now but not yet” aspect of Psalm 22 reminds us that, like David, we will face persecution that will cause us to wonder if God sincerely cares about our wellbeing. And like David, we can freely express our anger and frustration toward our Lord, but always with an understanding that he is our Creator and Sustainer of life. For this reason, David recounts how God was ever near to him and attentive to his needs from his birth onward (verses 9-11 above), for Yahweh taught David to trust him, whether relying on sustenance as a helpless babe or deliverance from wild beasts as a shepherd boy (verse 21b). And like David, when we recount God’s goodness, our expressions of frustration and sorrow will turn to praise:
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! 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. Psalm 22:23-24 ESV
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that through the life, death, and resurrection of your Son, we, your offspring, are not despised, that you hear our cries for help and reveal your glory to us. So when we struggle through trials, would you please help us recount the many ways you have cared for us and thus transform our laments into praise? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling