Psalm 22 (The Message)
God, God . . . my God!
Why did you dump me
miles from nowhere?
Doubled up with pain, I call to God
all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.
And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise?
We know you were there for our parents:
they cried for your help and you gave it;
they trusted and lived a good life.
And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
something to step on, to squash…
When I left the womb you cradled me;
since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.
Then you moved far away
and trouble moved in next door.
I need a neighbor….
You, God—don’t put off my rescue!
Hurry and help me!…
Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,
and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
give glory, you sons of Jacob;
adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
never looked the other way
when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
he has been right there, listening.
Here in this great gathering for worship
I have discovered this praise-life.
And I’ll do what I promised right here
in front of the God-worshipers.
Down-and-outers sit at God’s table
and eat their fill.
Everyone on the hunt for God
is here, praising him.
“Live it up, from head to toe.
Don’t ever quit!”
In Psalm 22 we happen upon a wretched soul. From his description, we might not recognize him to be a king or a king-to-be. All manner of awful things have happened to him and he continues to feel besieged. His affliction is overwhelming and life threatening. From across the many centuries, I feel his pain and desperation. I too have given voice to my fear that God has forsaken me.
However, appearances to the contrary, David is in a strong relationship with God. Despite his plight, despite that he is no more than an earthworm, he is not ready to give up on himself or on God. He has confidence that God will rescue him. He appears simply to be asking why the rescue has been delayed. Despite his brokenness, his pain, his moaning, David is strong.
He knows that God has stood by his people. “We know you were there for our parents: they cried for your help and you gave it; they trusted and lived a good life.” This knowledge gave David the confidence to call upon God.
David is troubled by God’s delay in coming to his rescue. But he is rescued. David praised God while in agony and continued to praise God after his delivery from agony, when the praise becomes exuberant.
Jesus, when on the cross, felt the agony of David (oh so much more than I did in simply reading about it), and turned to David’s psalm to express his feelings – “God, God . . . my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere?” But like David, Jesus knew and relied on his relationship with God and God’s relationship with his people; he too would be rescued. As would his people.
This psalm is moving and emotional and is made only more so by the link to Jesus’ crucifixion. The musical rendition by Jeremy Mayfield captures some of the emotion. (See link below.) I also find Eugene Peterson’s rendition of the psalm, in The Message, emotional and vivid. For that reason, I employed it above.
My God, why do abandon me? Let me rephrase that: My God, why do I constantly ignore you and even abandon you? My own life and the lives of your saints (including family and friends) are testimony to your love and power. Help me stay with you forever and ever. Amen.