Forsaken – Psalm 22

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

Psalm 22 is without debate a Psalm that directs our attention to the cross. Spurgeon believed that Jesus Christ actually quoted the entire Psalm while hanging on the tree. While the Psalm is one of David, and indeed describes his affliction to an extent, it far more obviously points to David’s greater Son in his final and saddest hour. Some contemporary commentators have capitalized on this truth in order to prove that in His darkest hour, Jesus Himself abandoned trust in God. The pastoral application of this is that as long if the Son of God could crack under enough pressure, it should not be too surprising if you too should crack from time to time, so do not be too hard on yourself when you lose trust in God; it happened to Jesus, so it will happen to you. But is this an appropriate application of the text? Did Jesus lose trust in God when he quoted Psalm 22:1?

Quite ironically, the mockers who stood in front of Jesus’ cross, as well as the two thieves crucified on either side of Him, quoted Psalm 22:8 as they mocked Jesus’ trust in God. Matthew 27:43-44 tell us that the chief priests and elders mocked Jesus saying, “He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. The irony is that, despite what the mockers say, Jesus does trust God. The fact that he quotes Psalm 22 demonstrates this. In his deepest trial He not only quotes the Word of God, but a Psalm that is one of the deepest expressions of confidence in God, in all of Scripture. When Jesus said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” it did not suggest a lack of trust in God at all; in fact, after His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, it became clear that His going to the cross would be His Father’s will, so it was an act of decisive trust. It’s an irony, but the man who cries out in despair, at the same time, trusts God implicitly! How then are we to interpret this cry of desolation? We will answer this and other questions related to Psalm 22 this Sunday.

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