Holy Week & Psalm 22

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

Note #1: Christ cries out on behalf of all those who have suffered through the “absence” of God.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

Note #2: YHWH is the only king. Even in his apparent absence we have heard his stories of salvation and deliverance. While we might long for him to hasten his redemption project. Ultimately we live in hope because we have heard of his mighty acts of old.

But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’

Note #3: Christ knows mockery and shame. The world does not know what love looks like. It sees success and failure and failure as success. It cannot discern how a death on a cross – how trusting God – would be a redefinition of true power and hope.

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

Note #4: Christ was human – fully human. Crying for help is deeply human.

Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

Note #5: False power, makes a loud roar – puts on a mighty show. But when contrasted with what comes next in this Psalm, is revealed as weakness.

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

Note #6: Until we can see this passage as true beauty, we will continue in the ways of the principalities and powers.

For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

Note #7: Victory is a sly animal. What seems victorious to the world is but a moment. But real victory – victory that comes through suffering love – lasts beyond a moment in time.

But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!

Note #8: Fight fire with fire all you want. Fight sword with sword if you must. But you have been warned – only God can save us from such things.

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me,
but heard when I cried to him.

Note #9: True worship only comes from true deliverance. If we can’t name what it is we have been saved from (here and now) then we can’t authentically praise the God who saved us.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
May your hearts live for ever!

Note #10: Salvation and deliverance and redemption are not commodities to hoard. They are to be shared.

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

Note #11: Christ is Lord. And this Psalm not only tells us that “Christ is Lord” – that he rules over all the earth – it also tells us HOW he rules. Christ rules by emptying himself on a cross.

To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.

Note #12: Holy Week leads to this. To the end of redemption’s pouring out of grace. “It is finished. He has done it.” Only those who have eyes to see and ears to hear can perceive that it is here. This we proclaim.

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