Psalm 22: A psalm for all reasons

With every lament psalm, after the complaint, after the trust, after the petition, there is praise. Lament psalms are psalms for every reason.

hands up

“My God, my god, why have you forsaken me?” the cry of Jesus’ heart, the song that he sang racked with pain, with his dying breaths as he hung from the cross, alone in the agony. So very alone.

This opening verse of Psalm 22 resonates with me as my heart breaks for not only the victims of the Parkland FL shooting but all those who sent their babies to school only to have them never return. It happened again. And we cry. Even the most hardened news reporters cannot hold back their emotions.

Where are you God? If you care as much as you say, then why, WHY must we all endure this pain? I thought we had this really good relationship. Is it no more? We find ourselves disoriented, confused, and frightened.

Psalm 22 is a lament psalm, written at least 1000 years before Christ, mostly likely by David, then the king who had been found out. God knows what he did. David killed, and lied, and cheated. His guilt has engulfed him. It was THIS song, this psalm that Jesus sang from the cross.

And with good reason. Psalms speak to the human condition and can guide us especially when really terrible things happen. Jesus more than likely had sung this psalm, along with all the others, as a child in the synagogue. Jesus knew it by heart. As with any lament psalm there are alternating stanzas of complaint and trust.

Why have you forsaken me? Yet you are holy

I am but a worm and not human…Yet it was you who …kept me safe on mother’s breast.

Many bulls encircle me… but you o Lord, do not be far away!

From bulls, to lions, to dogs (feared in ancient Israel) and finally to the evil people themselves, the psalmist needs God to come and get rid of those who seek to destroy.

“Come quickly…” “Deliver” “Save” sings the psalmist in verses 19-21. And is that not what we are crying too? God, come quickly! Deliver us from this hell on earth! Save us from ever having to endure the pain of knowing that yet another child went to school and didn’t come home again.

There are no easy answers to this problem. No one has come up with the one solution that will work where others have not. There are no panaceas to make this go away. That is the one thing that everyone seems to be in agreement with: We have got to do something, but what? Thoughts and prayers…well, OK but is there more that we are called to be doing? The debate rages on. We cannot figure it out. Do we march on March 24th? Do we walk out of class? Do we lobby for this legislation over that legislation? Call a senator? What do we do?

And we remember. Remember what God has done, is doing and will do. This one is on God. God will do the delivering. God will do the solving. God always has and God always will. Recall those instances in our lives when, against seemingly insurmountable odds, God made a ways for us to handle the situation. God will make a way again. We will have to listen. We may be called to do some hard work or even step out of our comfort zone.

Jesus remembered God’s plan for salvation, too. And he sang from the cross, “from the horns of the wild oxen you have recused me.

Hope. There is hope. Then and only then could the psalmist and Jesus sing praises for God for God’s goodness.

“Those who seek him shall praise the Lord. May your hearts live forever.”

Jesus’ heart was broken, hanging on the cross. His love is everlasting and is limitless. Our hearts will live again and love again. Of that we can be certain.

With every lament psalm, after the complaint, after the trust, after the petition, there is praise. Lament psalms are psalms for every reason.

And we will sing as Jesus sang, one last time before he breathed his last:  “I shall live for him…and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn saying that he has done.”

Restoration. Resurrection.

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