You know how things happen for a period of time and then fade out and come back years later? Things like fashion, music, fads. Well, in Psalm 22 David describes how he feels abandoned by God in his suffering. If you remember when Jesus was preparing to die on the cross there was a moment when he felt abandoned by God and expressed the same words David had hundreds of years before.
Psalm 22:1-11 reads in part: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief. Yet you are holy.... Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. ... You brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast....You have been my God from the moment I was born. Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me.”
Psalm 22 is the first in a cluster of Psalms that describes the suffering of someone and echoes the accounts in Isaiah of the suffering servant of the Lord. The first line of this psalm is likely to be familiar to us because Jesus cried out these exact words when he was being crucified on the cross. Yet this psalm was written by David many generations before that. Whatever suffering of his own that David was recounting he was also prophetically describing the redemptive suffering of Christ on the cross thousands of years later. Jesus would have read this psalm many times in his life during worship at the temple.
Matthew 27:46 tells us that at about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Knowing what he was going to face, Jesus could have spent his life in fear or dread. Instead, he, like David before him, clung to what he knew was true: God is holy, God is his God, and God has been trustworthy through- out his life. And then, based on these truths, David appeals to God to stay close to him.
The psalm ends with praise and a note of triumph at the end: “for he has done it.” Jesus stayed to the end, bore our sins, and purchased our reconciliation with God. The messianic nature of the psalm becomes clear as David declares that past generations who have died as well as future generations not yet born will all come to know that his God is a God who delivers his people from suffering. After all because Jesus really was completely forsaken by God (for us!), we can be confident that we never will be abandoned, even if, in our suffering, God seems far away or silent when we call out.
Gracious God, we glorify you that because Jesus knew what it meant to be utterly separated from you, we will never have to experience that. Strengthen our faith to truly believe this especially when we think we have reasons to doubt it. In Christ’s Name, Amen