Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Psalm 22: A Cry of Lament

"The Psalms of lament don’t just give us permission to be human and to admit our emotions, but they also show us what to do with these emotions, which is to pray them out loud in the presence of God.” Pastor Brad Bigney

The following thoughts are based on the following authors:

John Henderson, “Abused: Finding Hope in Christ”, P&R Publishing

William S. Plummer’s commentary, “Psalms”

W. Graham Scroggie’s commentary, “The Psalms”

J. Vernon McGee’s commentary, “Psalms, Vol. 1”

PSALM 22 - The Psalm of the Cross (McGee)

Since this Psalm is written to give us a first-hand audience to the mind of Christ during his final moments on the Cross, we can conclude that Psalm 22 describes, "Holy thoughts on how to suffer well when, humanly speaking, our circumstances don’t make sense and our experience seems beyond hope and help."

It can be divided cleanly into two parts, the first part (the Sob) turns inwardly and describes the pain, the second part (the Song) turns heavenward in trust that generates hope and praise.

The Sob and the Song (Scroggie)

I. The Sob (vs. 1-21)

Face God don't run from him (vs. 1-2)

1. vs. 1 MY God (El-Almighty, All-Sufficient One)
Express your confusion that your experience doesn’t seem consistent with His Nature and character.
He fails to do what His Nature demands that He does
He is NOT what His Nature claims he is…namely, “near”.
He does not seem to be near, in spite of His Nature being a "the Seeing God who sees”; the God who is not far from anyone

2. vs. 2 O, MY God (Elohim-Supreme)
Continue to cry out unceasingly, even though God does not answer
Even though there is no help received, no rest or comfort
Trust God, not yourself or your feelings (vs. 3-5)

1. In spite of your circumstances, in spite of emotions, in spite of physical suffering, God is unchanged

2. In spite of your circumstances, in spite of emotions, in spite of physical suffering, God is holy

3. In spite of your circumstances, in spite of emotions, in spite of physical suffering, God is still ruling, enthroned in His sanctuary, immersed in receiving the due worship of His own creatures

4. Since God is ruling, from His Holy Habitation, even this unspeakable suffering will end with blessing, glory, and good.

Describe Your Experience (vs. 6-8; 12-18)
Face the harsh realities of your circumstances frankly and honestly

a. Refuse to minimize, downplay, or re-package” the facts.

b. Describe what you've been through with accurate, honest, vivid terms, e.g. David’s/Christ's reputation had been ruined.

c. Others hold the deepest scorn and contempt for him (vs. 7)

d. David/Christ is mocked for his best efforts (vs. 8)

e. David/Christ’s enemies are the strongest, meanest, most dangerous, prideful, strong, fierce, cruel enemies (vs. 12-13)

f. Physical suffering

“All my bones are out of joint”, this is clearly looking forward to Christ’s crucifixion. Physically, the suffering is beyond description. This sounds like

Isaiah’s experience in chapter 6, “I am undone”.

“My tongue sticks to my jaws, you lay me in the dust of death.”, physically near death. (vs. 15)

“Dogs have compassed me…”, people of the worst character are mistreating David/Christ (vs.16)

“…they have pierced my hands and feet-I can count all my bones…”, great physical suffering (vs.16-17)

“Affliction” (vs. 24)

Complete powerlessness, helplessness, exhaustion

2. Don't downplay or minimize your thoughts, speak to God frankly, but without reckless abandon.

“I am a worm”, (vs. 6), David describes his self-assessment, feely less than human; “they stare and gloat” (v.17)

“…I find no rest”. (vs. 2)

“I am poured out like water” (vs. 14a), at the end of his rope, at it were.

“My heart is like wax” (vs. 14b), another vivid expression of the intensity of mental/emotional suffering.

3. Don’t downplay your emotions,

Freely describe your emotion and passion.

He experiences confusion from God’s silence (vs. 1-2)

He groans in sorrow, grief, pain, stress, etc. (vs. 1b)

He experiences shame from the mocking (vs. 8, 17-18)

Express how those emotions are affecting you. (vs. 6)

The psalmist's emotions and self-assessments couldn’t be darker and intensely painful.

“I am poured out like water” (vs. 14a), emotionally exhausted, rung out.

4. Honestly describe the actions of your will

How have you been responding to what has happened?

“I am poured out like water” (vs.14)

“My strength is dried up like a potsherd” (vs. 15a)

Remember God’s Faithfulness

1. Remember God’s care when you were most vulnerable. (vs. 9-10)

My God made me, brought me into this world and provided when I was most helpless

I trusted him then, I will trust him now, at this darkest hour, to deliver me and receive me, as he received me from my mother’s womb.

c. Reflect on God’s faithfulness from birth until today (vs. 10)

2. Cry out to God

When he feels far away, plead for this nearness

When you are in trouble, tell him what those troubles are

Acknowledge that you are alone, that there is no one to help

II. The Song (vs. 23-31) of King David and of The King of Kings:

Both lift their eyes from their circumstances to the One who orchestrated them.

Both shift their thoughts from internal perspectives and experiences to the One who orchestrated their pain.

Both lift their emotional focus away from their internal pain, toward the One who is worthy of worship and praise.

Both lift their decisions of the will to dwell on the One who rules and therefore find hope, joy, and thanksgiving, looking forward to deliverance.

Both “ascribe to the Lord, the glory due unto His Name”, (Psalm 29:2).

Truths to Remember:
You are loved with an everlasting love Jer. 31:3

God's mercy is new every morning and his compassion never fails Lam. 3:20-22He promises never to leave you (Her.13:5) and to complete the work he has begun in you (Phil.1:6).

Kent Kloter

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