Psalm 22 (NIV)
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!
David’s words are raw and from the heart – an unfiltered cry of fear, despair and isolation. On the outside, we might present ourselves to the world as up-together, in control and on song but the older I get the more I realise we are all Davids on the inside.
How often do we feel that the world is tougher to navigate our way through than it should be? How many days do we stop and think about the disconnect between (what we think are) God’s promises and the way life is? David’s honesty and directness tells it like it is. Life is hard and God can seem far away.
But look how David goes on. Rather than ranting at the injustice of it all and soaking the page with bitterness, David re-visits what he knows to be true: God has made him; God is his strength; God will put things right. And at the heart of it all (verses 16-18) is one of those passages which just shows, breathtakingly, how the Bible’s big story is so obviously true. David describes with precision things which happen on the day Jesus is crucified – something which doesn’t happen until hundreds of years later.
These are words of enormous power and emotional impact. David’s working through of the human condition – its disappointments, frustrations and fears – does not get in the way of his knowledge of who God is. This is a source of strength for us when things are tough. We are all facing our battles and revisiting our God is the surest way of meeting the challenges we face.
Almighty God, draw near. Be my rock in the shifting sands of life. Be my strength when I am weak. Be the one in whom my life finally makes sense. AMEN