Psalm 22:1 (NIV)
My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
From the depths of the Old Testament comes a cry from The Place of the Skull…the hill where Jesus died…Golgotha. The clarity of Psalm 22’s prophetic vision is staggering, and led Charles Spurgeon to capture its essence so powerfully:
“It is the photograph of our Lord’s saddest hours, the record of his dying words, the lachrymatory of his last tears, the memorial of his expiring joys. David and his afflictions may be here in a very modified sense, but, as the star is concealed by the light of the sun, he who sees Jesus will probably neither see nor care to see David. Before us we have a description both of the darkness and of the glory of the cross, the sufferings of Christ and the glory which shall follow. Oh, for grace to draw near and see this great sight! We should read reverently, putting off our shoes from off our feet, as Moses did at the burning bush, for if there be holy ground anywhere in Scripture it is in this psalm.”
Yes, the cries and the agonies of our Savior ring true in this majestic psalm, but it also reflects the deep and difficult valleys of what it means to take up one’s cross to follow Christ (Mt. 16:24). Have you ever been in such a dark place as to wonder, “Where are you, Lord?” Jesus has been there, too. While we may doubt where God is and what He is doing at any given point in time…or even for a season…we can never doubt WHO He is (Great) or WHAT He is (Holy). In the midst of a trial or tribulation there are always questions and groanings about what we don’t know, but rather, we must fight to recall and rest our weight on what we do know about our Lord and Savior.
John Calvin, in writing about the profound suffering and sense of abandonment found in this psalm, wrote, “There is not one of the godly who does not daily experience in himself the same thing. According to the judgment of the flesh, he thinks he is cast off and forsaken by God, while yet he apprehends by faith the grace of God, which is hidden from the eye of sense and reason.” To “apprehend by faith” is a powerful image of the fight that is before us as we sometimes suffer and wrestle with a sense of abandonment.
Like David did in this psalm…or like Christ did from the cross…we must be willing to say, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Lk. 23:46). David – and Jesus – said what they needed to say and did what they needed to do, but always left the results in the Father’s hands, where they are both safe and secure. David spent 18 verses agonizing and questioning and doubting…but then he spent the remaining 13 remembering, praising, and trusting. Jesus Christ did the same from the cross as He suffered and died by His Father’s will…yet He rose again, preached the Good News, and is today seated at the right hand of the Father! Take heart, dear Christian friend! From David to Christ…and from Christ to you and me…the suffering comes, but the resurrection is never far behind.