Psalms – Prayers of Gut Wrenching Honesty
Those of you who take time to read this from wherever you are on this earth have probably had a time in your life, like me, when you felt God was not listening, not at his post, not available to see what others are saying and doing to us. We yell a desperate prayer in times like this, “God! Are you there?” “Are you listening?” “Can you not see what they are saying and doing to bring me down?”
We may not know how this psalm related to the author’s personal experience, but we do know that David was a prophet. In this Psalm he writes about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The first part focuses on prayer and suffering and takes us to the cross, while the second part announces the resurrection and expresses praise to the glory of God.
An understanding of Messiah’s suffering and glory is basic to grasping the message of the Bible (Luke 24:25-27; 1 Peter 1:11). We will try to see both David and the son of David as we study this psalm.
Psalm 22, The Message
A David Psalm
1-2 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.
3-5 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.
6-8 And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
something to step on, to squash.
Everyone pokes fun at me;
they make faces at me, they shake their heads:
“Let’s see how God handles this one;
since God likes him so much, let him help him!”
9-11 And to think you were midwife at my birth,
setting me at my mother’s breasts!
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.
12-13 Herds of bulls come at me,
the raging bulls stampede,
Horns lowered, nostrils flaring,
like a herd of buffalo on the move.
14-15 I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled,
every joint in my body has been pulled apart.
My heart is a blob
of melted wax in my gut.
I’m dry as a bone,
my tongue black and swollen.
They have laid me out for burial
in the dirt.
16-18 Now packs of wild dogs come at me;
thugs gang up on me.
They pin me down hand and foot,
and lock me in a cage—a bag
Of bones in a cage, stared at
by every passerby.
They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
and then throw dice for my clothes.
19-21 You, God—don’t put off my rescue!
Hurry and help me!
Don’t let them cut my throat;
don’t let those mongrels devour me.
If you don’t show up soon,
I’m done for—gored by the bulls,
meat for the lions.
22-24 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.
25-26 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!”
27-28 From the four corners of the earth
people are coming to their senses,
are running back to God.
are falling on their faces before him.
God has taken charge;
from now on he has the last word.
29 All the power-mongers are before him
All the poor and powerless, too
Along with those who never got it together
30-31 Our children and their children
will get in on this
As the word is passed along
from parent to child.
Babies not yet conceived
will hear the good news—
that God does what he says.
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON…
Centuries later, Jesus, Son of God, who is God, prayed this same prayer of the Psalmist on the cross as he hung there for our sin. Unlike David, Jesus lived a perfect life without sin yet when it came time to complete his mission to save us, people beat him, mocked him, spit on him, nailed him to a cross and threw his own words back in his face. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” Jesus, the son of man, desperately cries out in the last hours of his death.
God was there. God is there. Let’s think this through. Jesus took all the sin of mankind upon himself as the perfect sacrifice for sin. Like water and air do not occupy the same space at the same time, God cannot be where sin is so He turned His face away from Jesus until the mission was complete, but he did not leave him. Jesus still talked to Him. “It is finished” were Jesus last words to God. God heard. Final victory. Suffering is over.
Imagine the scene in heaven, if you will. All of heaven silent, holding their breath, until Jesus drew his last breath on earth. When they heard the “it is finished”, imagine the shouts of glorious praise filling God’s place as Jesus spends his next three days going to hell and back for us, defeating death and evil that sent him there and rising from the grave in victorious splendor…with the scars of human brutality still visible on his hands and feet. Wow.
David’s prayer song of gut wrenching honesty is a prophecy of what is to come for Jesus…and all of us. Suffering will come. Jesus suffered for us. Jesus died and rose again for us. Jesus promised we would suffer for our faith in him. We will all wonder at times if God has left the building when we go through trials that bring us to our knees. Maybe, some of our trials are just what we need to bring us to our knees before The God who saved us.
No, God has not moved. God did not change His address. God is God and we are not. God never lets us down. While we suffer, God is there. While we rejoice when the trial is over, God is there. God uses everything, good and bad, in our lives to grow and mature us. God does not look the other way when others try to bring us down. God is there listening.
There is a line in this David psalm that needs to be read over and over, internalized, and chewed on until we believe it and live like we believe it…
“God has never wandered off to do his own thing: He has been right there, listening.” Do you believe God is always listening? What does this mean to you to know this?
David tries to tell God what to do then realizes that God knows what He is doing and turns His crying out to shouts of praise. We should all follow suit. How can we do that in our lives daily?
Dear Heavenly Father,
My or my, we worry about everything that happens to us. We are offended, mocked, and brought down and treated as worthless to mankind at times. Are you there? Of course You are. You are listening. You don’t miss a word or deed. You are our strength, energy, healing, protection, provision and our Savior. You comfort us with your Holy Spirit who lives in us. You drive us to our knees and let us know You are in charge and then gently, but firming refine us. You fight our battles. Our work is to pray while you work. Thank you for the revelation of You in this psalm of David. Speak to us, Lord, for your servant is listening to You!
In Jesus Name, Amen
And I’m singing….
I‘m not forsaken
I’m not forgotten
The Lord is in this place
The Lord is in this place….