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Monday, March 29, 2021

“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” Psalm 22 [Matt's Messages]

“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
March 28, 2021 :: Psalm 22

For the last several months we have been studying together the fortifying truth of the Psalms. And for the last several weeks we have
been specifically focusing on the Psalms of the Passion [Psalm 69, Psalm 55].

The Psalms of the Passion were songs written over a thousand years before Jesus was even born and, yet upon mature Christian reflection, are obviously songs that were singing about our Lord Jesus and what He endured for us on that first Passion Week.

Psalm 22 is the greatest of the Psalms of the Passion.

You and I, as Christians, cannot read Psalm 22 without seeing and hearing Jesus. If you’re a Christian, it’s just about impossible to miss Jesus in Psalm 22.

Because Jesus Himself quoted this very psalm when He was hanging on the Cross!

Jesus clearly lived out this Psalm like nobody ever before Him or ever since.

At the same time, God’s people had sung this song for a thousand years before Jesus was ever born.


And it was written in such a way that believers could model our prayers off of it when we are going through difficult times, as well.

Our suffering doesn’t compare with Jesus’ of course, and yet our sufferings are real, and God’s Word teaches us how to pray when we feel. real. pain.

Psalm 22 is a lament that shows us how to pray when we feel awful like King David did.

And Psalm 22 is a prophetic song that shows us more clearly what King Jesus felt when He suffered and died for us.

And, at the very end, Psalm 22 gives us glimpse of the glory that is coming because of God’s deliverance, a foretaste of what we’re going to focus on next Sunday when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.


Psalm 22, verse 1.

“For the director of music. To the tune of ‘The Doe of the Morning.’ A psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”

I don’t know what the tune of “The Doe of the Morning” sounded like. “The Deer at Dawn.” My guess is that it started, at least, in a minor key because these are sad lyrics. 

They are raw, aren’t they?

King David must have been feeling extreme anguish to write a song like this.

He felt horrible. He felt terrible. He felt miserable.

He felt abandoned.

He felt forsaken.

And it was disorienting. Bewildering. Mystifying. 

“My God, my God, WHY have you forsaken me? WHY are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” 

That word “groaning” in verse 1 shows up again in verse 13 to describe the roaring of a lion.

King David is “roaring” out to God. He’s crying out in a primal scream. Day and night.

But it seems like God is not answering!

Like God has blocked his number. He’s getting a busy signal. His calls are all going right to voicemail and the voicemail box is full or has not been set up. So try again later. And nobody will answer then either.

That’s how it feels.

David feels rejected.
David feels abandoned.
David feels forsaken.

And, of course, whatever David felt, Jesus felt even more.

King Jesus is Great David’s Greatest Son.

What David merely tasted, Jesus swallowed whole.

So if King David felt forsaken, how much more did King Jesus?!

That’s why these words were on the lips of our Savior when He was hanging on the Cross. He couldn’t think of a better quotation to make His prayer as He was crucified. 

He prayed these words in Aramaic. Matthew 27:46,“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’– which means [Psalm 22, verse 1], ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

It’s not that Jesus didn’t know the answer. It’s that He felt the question like never before.

Jesus, the Son of God, in His humanity was feeling the abandonment of God as He absorbed the wrath of God because of the love of God for His rebellious people.

We call this, “The Cry of Dereliction” because of just how bad it felt for Jesus to become sin for us. The Bible says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus was being treated–as if He was sin itself–with the full justice of God. 

So, of course, it felt to the Son of God like His God was forsaking Him!

With all of the unimaginable horror that would go with it.

“My God, my God, why?” 

Jesus knew the answer, but He was experiencing the excruciating pain of the question.

Now you and I have never felt this way like Jesus did.

Perhaps we’ve never felt this way like even David did.

But we’ve all felt abandoned before. We’ve all felt forsaken before.

And, I’ll bet that most of us, if not all of us, here have felt at one time or another forsaken by God.

Life hurts. Honk if you’ve had a nice light easy year with no trouble. I thought so. And this might not have been your worst year ever or your worst year yet.

How do you pray when your life feels like this? How do you pray when it feels like God has stopped taking your calls?

Two points this morning of what we can learn about prayer in pain from Psalm 22.

#1. PRAY YOUR DISTRESS.

Don’t stop talking to God even when it feels like God is not listening.

That’s what David is doing here, right? He keeps praying.

And don’t miss the key little two-letter word that’s in there 3 times in the first 3 verses. What is it?

“My.” 

He calls God, “My God.” “My God.” “My God.” That’s a relationship word.

He’s taking these terrible feelings–even terrible feelings about his God–TO HIS GOD.

He prays his distress.

One of the things that makes him so distressed is that he knows that God has been faithful to deliver Israel in the past, and it makes him wonder why He’s not doing it for David right now. Verse 3.

“Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’”

David feels downright inhuman. He’s been trusting the LORD like Israel in the past, but the LORD has not yet delivered him from his sufferings. And it makes him feel less than human.

Like a worm. Like the lowest of the creatures trampled under foot. Fill of dirt.

And treated like dirt by the people around him. 

Scorned. Despised. Mocked. Insulted. 

You can’t help but see Jesus here, can you?

Jesus in the garden.
Jesus in the temple.
Jesus in the courtyard.
Jesus on trial.
Jesus on the Cross.

Scorned. Despised. Mocked. Insulted. 

In fact, the gospel writers tell us that the people who were taunting Jesus when He was on the cross literally said these words, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, 'I am the Son of God.’”

They were wickedly and unwittingly fulfilling Psalm 22, verses 7&8! “Sure doesn’t seem like the LORD delights in him!”

And David experienced something similar but smaller.

And you and I have and will experience something similar but smaller, as well.

What do you when that happens?

Well, one of the things you do is you tell your God all about it.

You pray your distress back to your Lord.

I know that I would rather sing a upbeat praise song or even a comforting ballad.

How about the next Psalm? Psalm 23. Anybody like that one? Honk if you like Psalm 23.


But we don’t just need to pray like Psalm 23. We need to pray like Psalm 22.

Pray your distress.

What made it even harder for David was that God had been near him his whole life long, but now it felt like he was far away. Verse 9.

“Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God. [There it is again, “my God.”]  Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.”

Trouble is near, but God seems far.

And yet David keeps talking to Him.

And asking Him to intervene.

Verse 11 is a great prayer. It’s a plea for help, and we’ve been learning that an essential feature of godly prayer is asking God to help us when we are in trouble.

And David sure was in trouble. Verse 12.

“Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd [a broken piece of pottery], and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.”

This is bad.

This is really bad.

David says that he’s being attacked by wild animals.

I don’t think they were literally animals. I think it’s a metaphor. He’s under attack from wild people who hate him and want to take him down.

And it’s feeling right now like they are going to win, and he’s going to die.

He just about can’t go on.

His attackers are like strong bulls from the Texas of Israel, the region of Bashan where they grew their cattle big and strong. You don’t want to get trampled by one of these big old bulls from Bashan.

They aren’t just bulls. They are lions that tear open their prey, and David is their prey.

He’s their victim. And it’s got him weak and defeated and deflated and exhausted. He’s dehydrated and racked with thirst.

And Who does that remind you of?

Remember, this was written over a thousand years before Jesus was born.

But it sure sounds a lot like His crucifixion to me.

David’s enemies are not just like bulls and lions. They are also like dogs. V.16

“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.”

For David, this might have been figurative about dog bites.

But for Jesus, sadly, it was very literal. 

“...they have pierced my hands and my feet.”

Verse 17. “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

The Gospel of John tells us that this was fulfilled literally in Jesus, as well.

Think about that! One of the Roman soldiers went home on Friday from work with Jesus’ clothing.

He’s emaciated. He’s shamed. He’s suffering.

And He’s praying. 

Verse 19. “But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me. Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.”

When you are in distress, pray your distress, and ask God to deliver you from your distress.

David did.

I don’t know about you, but I have learned a lot in the last twelve months about lament. About praying painful prayers to God.

God wants us to bring our whole souls to Him even when we are hurting.

Especially when we are hurting.

And we could be hurting from a whole boatload of different things.

I’m sure there is a lot of pain right here in this parking lot today.

Take it to the Lord.

Take the whole blistering mess to the Lord.

Because the God of Psalm 23 is the same God of Psalm 22.

So you can take everything to Him and tell Him everything you feel including that you feel like He is not listening.

Because you know, down deep, that He is.

David kept praying even though he felt like this.

And so did Jesus.

David prayed for deliverance, and surprisingly, he still expected it to come.

Some translations round off verse 21 by saying, “You have saved me!” or “You have answered me!” like the answer came while David was actually still writing the song.

And that’s possible. My guess is that he’s actually just anticipating it. David expects to be rescued once again even though he feels like this, and so he plans to praise God and to proclaim his deliverance.

And that’s point two of two this morning. Pray your distress and:

#2. PROCLAIM YOUR DELIVERANCE.

In verse 22, the psalm changes dramatically.

I’m wondering if there is even a key change in the “Doe of the Morning” tune right here.

Any way about it, it gets ratcheted up into a glorious praise song. Verse 22.

“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you. [He’s no longer alone. Or at least, he expects to not be alone.] You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

David knows that God is listening.

It may not feel like it, but he knows.

And he expects to be delivered from his great distress.

V.24.  God “has not hidden his face from [David] but has listened to his cry for help.”

And so he plans to praise God, and he wants others to praise God, too. Like we’ve seen over and over again this year, this praise is contagious.

It goes from David to Israel and then out to the nations. Verse 25.

“From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows. The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him–may your hearts live forever! 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, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.”

He’s not just the Lord of Israel.

He’s the Lord of the whole wide world!

This is a missionary psalm, isn’t it?

This is a psalm that starts in Israel and emanates out to the ends of the earth.

Even to Central Pennsylvania. V.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. [Which is all of us. And not just then but now and forever.] Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn–for he has done it.”

You know who he’s talking about?

Well, among others, he’s talking about us.

This was written about 3,000 years ago by King David.

And it predicts us.

That people in a parking lot in central Pennsylvania who were not yet born (really not yet born! 3,000 years not born!) will hear about the righteousness of God and the deliverance of God.

How God saved David.
And how God saves us.

We don’t do it.
We can’t save ourselves.

But what does verse 31 say? “He has done it.”

To me, that sounds a lot like what Jesus said on the Cross when He cried, “It is finished.”

Proclaim your deliverance. 

Assuming you’ve been delivered. Verse 27 says that we have to repent. We have to turn to the Lord and put our faith in Him, bowing before Him.

To be saved, we must turn from our sins and trust in the Savior.

Jesus died on the Cross to pay for sins. He absorbed the wrath of God.

Jesus felt this forsaken so that we will never be forsaken.

“He has done it.”

Trust in Him, and proclaim His deliverance.

Now, of course, that doesn’t mean that every time you pray, you will be delivered in the way that you are hoping or on the timetable that you are proposing.

David, apparently, lived to fight another day.

You and I may not.

Jesus did not.

On the day that Jesus prayed Psalm 22, He was crucified and died.


He came back to life to give us life.

Jesus was delivered, too.

And He also proclaims His own deliverance!

Did verse 22 sound familiar to you?

“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.”

Well, that gets quoted in the New Testament book of Hebrews, chapter 2.

And guess who it says is singing that song?

If you guessed, “Jesus,” you guessed right!

Hebrews 2:11-12. Jesus is not ashamed to call [us family] “He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.’”

Even Jesus proclaimed His deliverance.

Deliverance from death.

I can’t hardly wait for us all to come back next Sunday and sing about it and proclaim our deliverance and praise our deliverer!


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 / Winter 2021 / Spring 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55

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