When we cannot rejoice
in God as our song,
yet let us stay ourselves
upon Him as our Strength.
Thank you for joining me as together we look with fresh eyes at Psalms 22, 23 and 24 – The Songs of the Lord. The Introduction provides the basic narrative from which we’ll briefly explore each Song and its part in establishing the full Gospel of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection/ascension.
Our first place of identification with Jesus begins here, at the cross. His Song is our song.
F.B. Meyer, in his commentary, titled Psalm 22 The Cry of the Forsaken. He recorded it as “a photograph of Calvary, a memorial of the heartbreak of Jesus.” For the soul in anguish, it seems God has forsaken.
Jesus’ death song
We know Jesus grew up learning the prophecies that, indeed, spoke of Him. Myriad sermons have been preached on the significance of The Seven Last Words of Jesus from the cross. I find myself wondering with F.B. Meyer – is it possible that He recited this to Himself while hanging on the cross, bearing the sin of the whole world? What internal dialogue was taking place, uttered only to His Father, but this very Psalm a clue to His unspoken anguish?
We know He who knew no sin was made to be sin on our behalf (II Corinthians 5:21). This Psalm was set to the music of the hind, the emblem of loveliness (Song of Songs 2:9 ) and purity. It cost Him everything, including separation from His Father – something He had never known – so that the great gulf of separation set by sin might forever be abolished by His obedience in (the midst and experience of) suffering and travail.
Though this is the longest of the three Psalms I include it in its entirety for our contemplation.
Psalm 22:1-21 (NIV)
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 my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises.
In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the LORD,” they say, “let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
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 on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions that tear 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 within me.
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.
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Deliver me 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.
Above, the soul in agony yet affirming the holiness of His heavenly Father. Despite His plaintive cry, declaring Him his very strength as His precious life blood drained out.
And then! A marked shift not unlike the transition of a woman in labor. Faith reborn! Victory proclaimed! Not abandoned but going through, Redemption’s full Justice price paid by Mercy’s blood. The gloom and darkness of death overcome by Life, as One already risen from the dead!
And on He sang, triumphant – I will declare! I will praise! I will fulfill my vows! His Song is to be our song. Our theme, as was His, of the LORD and the LORD alone.
I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.
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 scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the LORD will praise him– may your hearts live forever!
And finally, the comforting of His heart (II Corinthians 1:3-7, our identification) with the results of His death, bringing forth eternal life down through every generation, perpetuating the worship of the Most High. The Lord reigns! His song, as it is ours.
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.
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.
Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!
Psalm 22 – Jesus’ death song
We identify with Jesus at the Cross when our heartbreak – our sin and pain and sorrow – is relinquished to Him. It is in the suffering and relinquishing through our own death song that we receive His promise of not being abandoned to the realm of the dead – as will be all those who do not relinquish to Him and cannot keep themselves alive. Instead, those who receive Him will have made known to them the path of life and being filled with joy in His presence, both now and eternally. (Psalm 16:11)
It Is Finished.
~ Grace-Fully Free
Join me next time for Psalm 23 – Jesus Christ’s Burial Song
“Crucifixion” – Image courtesy of bela_kiefer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Shammahs Field LLC/Shammah Ministries is the biblical counseling, life coaching, and spiritual growth ministry entrusted to Wayne & Nancy Bentz. You can learn more about the resources they have to offer at www.shammahsfield.com and nancybentz.com.