My mother, sister, and I moved from Maryland to Florida when I was six years old. My one lasting memory of the trip was when we stopped at a motel across from the ocean. My mother readied us to swim (wade). Then, nearly dark, my sister and I watched as my mother went swimming. I remember losing sight of her. The waves seemed mountainous. Scared, I kept calling out—screaming—for her. I’ve never forgotten that dark evening.
Have you ever felt abandoned by God—forsaken to tough out life on your own? In His darkest and neediest hour Jesus Christ did, too.
Psalm 22 is a highly revered song in church history—sometimes called “The fifth Gospel.” I am humbled to consider writing a few words about it. More importantly, it is quoted by the Greater King David, Jesus Christ Himself from the cross. In writing this song, King David frees us to search for and express our emotions and it steers us toward an authentic path to help. Notice the process: Lament is legitimate, vss. 1-21; worship brings real hope, vss. 22-26; and Messiah Jesus is always King, vss. 27-31.
Could there be a darker expression of the agony Christ suffered for us than His quote of verses 1-2: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest.” Our lament—“groaning”—is legitimate. God does not require holy vocabulary in our prayers and worship; He longs for honest words and heart. For twenty-one verses David talks straight with God about how it feels to be squeezed between two worlds, one of pain and Godlessness and the other of relief and the presence of God. Can you talk to the Father in this way?
While in agony David worships God in the company of the redeemed, vss. 22-26. Surely, there has been worship all along as David prays and sings. “Yet You,“ he affirms, “are holy” (v. 3). Further, “You who fear Yahweh, praise Him…glorify Him…From You comes my praise in the great congregation.” Our aloneness should summon us to worship with the people of God.
The last verses move us forward in our experience and are prophetical. They remind us of God’s plan and “kingship belongs to the LORD.” Certainly, this points to the Greater David, Messiah Jesus, when “All the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD” (Cf. Philippians 2:9-11). How we need to rest in His soon-coming judgment of His enemies and reestablishment of righteousness on earth. Mom came back and so will the Son of God!
How do you process the sense of abandonment? Some have said, “God is seldom early but never late”? Even stronger: He is always on time. While we wait, Psalm 22 will help us trust God.
Honest and hurting follower of Christ, won’t you pray Psalm 22 this week?