I’m taking notes on my husband’s Wednesday night messages and sharing them with you — plus a couple of my own thoughts and treasures I found online.
This week, he gave a challenge from Psalm 22, which he titled, “A Prayer for Suffering.”
It is psalm from David, yet it is also a Messianic Psalm prophesying of our Savior’s ultimate sacrifice for us.
Martin Luther said about this psalm:
This is a kind of gem among the Psalms, and is peculiarly excellent and remarkable. It contains those deep, sublime, and heavy sufferings of Christ, when agonizing in the midst of the terrors and pangs of divine wrath and death which surpass all human thought and comprehension.Martin Luther
This psalm is actually part of a trilogy of the Shepherd’s Psalms:
- Psalm 22 — the Shepherd who dies for the sheep
- Psalm 23 — the Shepherd who lives and cares for the sheep
- Psalm 24 — The Chief Shepherd returns to reward the sheep for their service.
This song does not include any words of confession; no imprecatory prayer or judging of the wicked. It is believed to be primarily the prayer of a righteous person being put to death by the wicked, which of course is our Messiah. It could be referencing the personal trials of David; it most definitely is referencing the future trials of the Messiah.
1 My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2 O my God, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
In verses 1-2, it seems like God has abandoned the believer. We see the exact words from verse 1 being used by Jesus on the cross in Matthew 27:46. As I studied through this psalm, I thought it would have been great if we had this message a couple of weeks ago as it is about Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross. Every week is a week we should be reflecting on Easter and how Christ took our place on the cross.
Christ was completely forsaken by God.
The eternal Son who had always been the object of His Father’s delight was now abandoned. The Perfect Man who unfailingly did the will of God experienced the terrible desolation of being cut off from God.
For our sakes, Christ was forsaken by God so that we might never be forsaken.
Thus when we read of Christ’s deep suffering, it should always be with the keen awareness that He bore it all for us. We should punctuate each statement with the words for me. He was forsaken — for me. When I hear Him cry, “Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning?” I know that it was for me.William MacDonald
We notice from verse 2 that the author cries to God continually (day and night). “The words of my roaring” usually references lion or thunder. This shows the deep feeling of abandonment. Most scholars believe that Jesus quoted this whole psalm on the cross. The psalmist is praying/prophesying about the Messiah.
3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
The author either explains why he is alone — because he has been made sin — or because God is holy or both. He is abandoned because of the holiness of God. He never doubts the holiness of God.
The love of God demanded that sin’s wages be paid. God’s love provided what His holiness demanded. He sent His Son to die as a substitutionary sacrifice. Now ‘stern justice can demand no more, and mercy can dispense her store.’William MacDonald
4 Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
God can be trusted! We know he has listened in the past. So we can draw confidence from that and know that God doesn’t change, and He will listen to our prayers. He listened to Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Noah. They all went through hard circumstances, yet God delivered them. I can expect God to deliver me too.
However, from the Messiah’s perspective, God would not answer. His silence provided our payment for our sin. This silence was reserved only for the spotless Lamb of God.
6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
This worm, the Messiah, would be crushed; and we would be able to wear robes of righteousness because of what He did.
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.
Now he is abhorred by men. He is abused by His enemies.
- He is scorned and despised.
- He is mocked and insulted.
We see the fulfillment of this prophecy in Matthew 27.
We can have this same faith and hope that God will deliver us even when others mock us. For surely, a godly man will suffer persecution sometime in his life.
In a truly grace-filled man, his trust in God is known.
This trust by believing men is not understood by the world.
This true faith will almost certainly be mocked at some time or another.
The time shall come when the man of faith who has trusted in God shall be abundantly justified.Spurgeon from a sermon, Faith Among Mockers
9 But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. 10 I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. 11 Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help.
Again, when things look dark, he encourages himself in the Lord. God is still control. God has taken care of him from the very womb, from infancy.
The Forsaken One did not say, “Since I feel abandoned by God, I will abandon Him.” He remained steadfast through the dark night of the soul, and still made appeal to the God who cared for Him since birth.David Guzik
12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion.
These people are acting like strong bulls which is a picture of the cruelty of men.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
All of these verses are sad, but clear, pictures of what happened on the cross. The word “dogs” in verse 16 are referencing wicked men surrounding him.
What can we learn from the first 18 verses of Psalm 22?
When we go through a trial, our feelings can make us feel like that God has forsaken us. What should we do when feel this way?
Remember God’s promises. He has promised:
He will not forsake you.
. . . for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Deuteronomy 31:6
He is with you.
And the Lord, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8
. . . lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:20b
We cannot be forsaken because God always keeps His promises.
And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth: and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof. Joshua 23:14
God always keeps His Word.
My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Psalm 89:34
We cannot be forsaken because He was forsaken for us.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
Remember the character of God.
But thou art holy. v. 3
Remember how God has taken care of you in the past.
But thou art he that took me out of the womb: v.9
Even from our birth, He has cared for us.
Remember how God has answered prayers of men in the past.
Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. v. 4
So why does it seem sometimes like we are forsaken?
The delay of answered prayer is to transform us to be like His Son. God’s purpose for us is to be conformed to the image of God’s Son. Jesus Himself went through suffering for God’s glory, so we will go through suffering for His glory as well.
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10
You can listen to my husband’s message on Psalm 22:1-18 HERE.
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