31 March • Friday of the Fifth Week in Lent
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4 In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
9 Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother's breasts.
10 On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 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;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet —
17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.
28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations.
29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30 Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.
Psalm 22, in general is about someone crying out to the Almighty to save him from the taunts and torments of his enemies. Eventually, he thanks God for rescuing him.
In life, there are many enemies. Some are perceived, others are physically real. Often, the perceived enemies seem to exert much more damage than real ones. However, the combination of both can be devastating.
When enemies draw near and the route of escape is not in sight, discouragement comes, despair follows, then complete hopelessness. At that, nothing needs to be said. Life will be meaningless. We struggle for hope. When all personal human efforts fail, cries to the Almighty will be our last resort.
The problem for many is we believe that we do not need to acknowledge God as the Almighty and thus would not need His help. We think we can solve our own problems.
The writer of Psalm 22 expressed his anguish with personalised lament. He was suffering at the hands of his enemies. The intensity of mockery and taunt has reached its crescendo. There was need for relief and release. Only God could help. When help comes, there would be rejoicing and worship.
When Christ quoted the Psalmist at the cross. He too faced his enemies on our behalf. Death would be the eventual outcome and that could have been victory for the enemy. He was going through the struggles and anguish, the taunting and suffering, both mental, physical as well as spiritual. Yet, He became our example when He acknowledges God’s sovereignty.
Is there meaning and purpose in anguish and suffering? In Matthew 27, many of the images of Psalm 22 became familiar. Matthew presents Jesus as the innocent sufferer par excellence. In spite of His innocent suffering, He is vindicated, so too, will be Jesus’ followers. Death couldn’t hold Him to the grave. His resurrection is our victory cry instead of our lamentation.
Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for being the first to utter the victory cry instead of just a lamentation for hopelessness. A cry not just to indicate a separation, but rather to reveal Your sovereignty over sin and Evil. You prevail over death and the evil one, and lead us to triumph on the empty tomb. Thank You, Lord that though You suffered and died, it was for us a victory cry and not a lamentation. We thank You in Jesus’ mighty name, amen.
Our wellness depends on God, not on our efforts, wisdom or abilities. Let’s not wait till the last moments to cry to God for help, but to acknowledge God who will be with us till the end of the age. Whatever your struggles, anguish, pains or injustices faced, bring them to God and He promises to stand together with you.
Rev Dr Peter Poon
has retired from full-time pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church of Singapore where he served for 40 years. However, he is still actively serving with Walk thru the Bible Ministry (under the Bible Society) as regional trainer with the Regional Office of WTB. He’s also a pastoral mentor with Bethel Presbyterian Church.
Rev Poon and his wife Helena have three grown children and four grandchildren. They both enjoy the outdoor and birdwatch whenever possible