Psalm 22

This psalm — so well known for providing the words of Jesus’ ‘cry of dereliction’ from the cross — took on a new poignancy for me this morning.

How many times have I been through M’Cheyne’s diary of readings? I’ve lost count, actually. But only today I noticed what it means to read Psalm 22 after Psalms 20-21. These psalms teach us to pray for the salvation of the anointed one (Psalm 20), and then rejoice in that salvation (Psalm 21).

Having spent a bit of time yesterday reflecting on Psalms 20-21, this morning Psalm 22:1 hit like a hammer-blow: ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ What did the prayer for salvation mean? where has rejoicing in God’s power to save gone? Nothing and nowhere, respectively, seem to be the answers.

Miraculously, Psalm 22 itself contains the resolution to this traumatic prayer…

23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
   but has heard, when he cried to him.

…while the remaining verses in the psalm (vv. 25-31) provide some specific responses to the prayers in the two preceding psalms. So, when it looks like everything has unravelled … it hasn’t. Much more than that, the prayers of Psalms 20-21 which might have looked naive, superficial, or triumphalistic, are seen to be anything but. Thanks be to God!


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