“My God, why have you forsaken me?”
Psalm 22 begin with the last words Jesus utters on the cross, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” This is a Psalm of David and must reflect an experience of his when he was in deep depression – very probably at some stage when he was being pursued by Saul and his henchmen and forced to hide in the wilderness. It is not difficult to have some appreciation of this desperate prayer of David.
After going forth so valiantly against Goliath and then being so successful that the people could sing, “Saul has struck down his thousands and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7) suddenly David’s situation changes. Now he is hiding in caves, Saul is seeking clues as to where he might me, does David have any friends? Some who learn where he is report this to Saul (1 Samuel 23:19; 24:1).
Today’s Psalm expresses how David was feeling; it was a natural reaction for him to pray, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”
He goes on to write, “O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest” (verse 2). It is natural from our human perspective that we should think in terms of cause and effect – but God sees the bigger picture, the larger perspective of spiritual training such as when Jesus was “led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted [tested]” as we read last week in Matthew 4:1.
What is very instructive for us about this – and several other Psalms – is how, after starting with desperate questions in a spirit of depression his words in this Psalm then move forward to perceive, what we might call, the ‘bigger picture’. Yet David’s life in some of his experiences was a prophecy of what happened to Jesus.
David, in fleeing, left clothing behind and he notes “they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (verse 18). An event which was to repeat itself in the life of Jesus. Then David’s thoughts move on to think positively and he tells God, “I will tell of your name to my brothers, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you” (verse 22).
Finally this Psalm comes a greater and more far reaching vision of the future. “All the ends of the end shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you” (verse 27). May that day come soon!