The Cross

The Cross: Psalm 22 – Lament and Praise

The Cross – Lament and Praise – Psalm 22

 

Introduction.

Trouble and suffering is the stuff of life. Although we all dream of a trouble free life with no pain or heartache, experience teaches us that life is not like that.

Job 5:7 … man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. (NIV)

 

King David of Israel, the psalmist who penned psalm 22, had his fair share of trouble in spite of the fact that he was the greatest king Israel ever had.

 

No Christian can read this Psalm without being drawn to Jesus and his crucifixion. In the story of Christ’s passion there are 9 references from the Psalms – of those 9, 5 are from Ps.22.

While it is true this is a prophetic psalm about Jesus’ death – it is also true that it was deeply relevant and meaningful to its original writer and readers.

 

This psalm divides clearly into two sections – 1st 21verses are Lament [a mixture of anguish and trust]; last 10 verses are a song of Praise [personal and prophetic / individual and cosmic].

 

The writer is in deep anguish – this is a deep heart-cry of  someone in suffering and pain [not necessarily physical] yet who in spite of their trouble still believes in and trust God.

  1. I.                  Trouble and Trust – v.1-21.

 

  1. Trouble –

His troubled complaint is against his God who seem too distant; against his tormentors who are all too near and against himself – his feebleness and inability to deal with his situation.

 

1)    feels abandoned by God – v.1-2.

We are not told what the psalmist’s circumstances are. Physically and emotionally he is being stretched to the limit and spiritually his faith is in crisis. At the point where he feels his need for God is greatest, God seems utterly distant and out of reach. “Where is his God?”

He knows in his head that God is a God of power / a God who answers prayer – Why them does he not rescue him?

The problem he faces is more than just a problem of suffering – it is the gap between what he believes and what he is experiencing – it is something even the most godly believers sometimes face.

 

ILLUS.: -READ- David Watson – “Fear no evil” – p.43  “The worst times … so ferociously attacked”

 

Often at times like these we feel abandoned by God and cry out with the psalmist Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

This is the experience of many – Book titles 1) How long O Lord?” 2) When heaven is silent 3) When God doesn’t make sense …………

2)    feels victimised by others – v. 6-8.

His sense of God’s absence is aggravated by those who instead of being a support and help add to his trouble by mocking and undermining.

Job’s comforters – those who under the guise of helping actually rub salt into the wound by their questioning / gloating / mocking!

Sometimes the help offered is more to do with the helpers need to be needed.

Those who should be a help pour sarcasm on his faith and make matters worse.

 

3)    feels sorry for himself – v.12-18.

In the wake of these feelings of abandonment and victimisation he feels all is helpless and hopeless.

He feels like prey that is trapped with no way of escape.

In every way he is exhausted and feels that his life is at an end.

Others appear to consider his life over as they gamble to share out his clothes. He may as well lie down and die.

 

  1. Trust –

Yet in the midst of this lament there is still the flame of trust burning – it may be burning low but it is still burning.

He may feel as if god has abandoned him but he still addresses him as “MY God!”

 

1)    in God and his power – v.3-5.

In spite of God’s silence and apparent inaction he still believes that God is king. Psalm 22:3  Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

God is just and righteous – and therefore the troubles and sufferings of his people do not escape him and he is perfectly able and willing to deal with any situation BUT in his time and on his terms. He is the altogether transcendent God and therefore NOT at our beck and call!

vv.4-5 the psalmist reminds himself and us that God has the power to rescue – history shows it. So there is trust despite adverse circumstances and feelings.

 

2)    in God’s plans and providential care – v.9-11.

His life is not an accident. It is not just the random process of biological evolution. From conception God has had his hand on him. It is as if God has been assigned to his special care and custody.

If you and I are God’s children by faith in Jesus then rest assured that nothing happens to you that God doesn’t know about and care about even if your feelings are to the contrary.

 

3)    in God’s promises – v.19-21.

In spite of his desperate feelings of loneliness, abandonment, victimisation – all his troubles and heartaches he still believes in God and God’s power to rescue.

Psalm 22:19  But you, O Lord, be not far off;

O my Strength, come quickly to help me. (NIV)

 

ILLUS.: In hospital in 1998 – battle with cancer. Angry / fearful / helpless / near death – didn’t want to pray or read Bible YET never stopped believing in God – what’s the alternative – ALL others possibilities are hopeless. In God always hope.

 

  1. II.               Praise and Worship – v.22-31.

As we move into the 2nd half of the Psalm the transformation is radical. Now Praise and Worship.

What caused this transformation – we are not given any details BUT God has totally reversed the Psalmist’s predicament.

 

A. Personal – v.22-26.

His worship is very personal yet it is with his fellow worshippers. However the fellowship with others doesn’t crowd God out. The danger of worship is that it can become people-centred / me-centred.

What has brought about this exuberant celebration.  Contrast v.2 and v.24

Psalm 22:2  O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. (NIV)

Have you been there? Are you there now? Take heart from David’s experience

Psalm 22:24  For he has not despised or disdained

the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

So the suffering One becomes the one who leads the worshipping community into deeper praise and worship.

 

B. Prophetic – v.26-31.

He sees beyond his own personal circumstances and even beyond the community to which he belongs. He has a vision of the future when the worshipping community will extend to included ALL social classes – poor v.26 and the rich v.29. ALL peoples and nations v.27. ALL generations – those who have already died v.29 and those yet to be born v.31.

What starts with personal praise ends with a vision later to be amplified by the Apostle Paul, who looked forward to the day when [Philippians 2:11]  .. every tongue [would] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)

 

  1. Christ and the Cross

 

This psalm more than any other is a picture of Christ’s suffering and glory.

Jesus is identified in his death on the cross with the sufferings of this psalmist AND with all humanity who suffers the consequences of sin.

Jesus had enjoyed the closest intimacy with his Father YET in those hours on the cross when he dies it is not only that he feels God has withdrawn but that is in fact the reality.

It was not just the physical torture, public humiliation and agonising death – the love and intimacy of the Father has been replaced by God’s anger and Judgement. He is in the torment of separation from God the Father  —  and in that time of intense spiritual and physical agony he cries out in the words of this Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? While the soldier gamble for his clothes and the onlookers mock AND he is alone!

 

When we suffer trouble and heartache there is the past experience of a good and loving God and yet at the same time the reality of the hurt, betrayal, bewilderment and anguish.

Jesus experienced that on the cross to the fullest extreme possible. To the fullest extent possibly Jesus entered into the very human experience, not just of suffering, but of godforsakenesss just when he need God’s presence the most.

 

The difference between the psalmist and Jesus is that while David is delivered from death, Jesus is delivered through death. However the Psalmist deliverance is not complete, death is simply postponed, he must still died physically, death would come knocking again;  BUT Christ’s deliverance is complete; death is defeated never to knock on his door again.

 

Paul writes in Philippians 2:5-11 5 .. Christ Jesus:      6 …8 … humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Lament is replaced by praise and worship.

 

In the cross Jesus suffers the full impact of the hiddenness of God AND then in the resurrection enters the fullness of praise and exaltation.

 

Our experiences may lead us into times of silence and uncertainty about God / of questioning and desperation

But the cross and the resurrection give us the final answer and tell us that if we trust in God we will not be disappointed.

 

Romans 8:31-39            31 If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 … 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 …

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

 

What is it that gives Paul this confidence? Was it because he had a constantly warm fuzzy feeling of love? NO!

Paul had this confidence in the face of extreme suffering and hardship because of the cross!

we are more than conquerors through him who – loves us? NO! –loved us.  Past tense!

Is it because Paul thinks God doesn’t love him in the present? NO! BUT his feeling of love, like ours are fickle and volatile but the cross stands as a fact in history, the place where God’s love was proved.

So that even when my circumstance are desperate and I cry out with the psalmist “God why have you forsaken me?”  — even then I can look back to the cross and say – “There God proved his love!” “Lord restore me – cause me to worship you again.”

The more we grasp this – the deeper will be our worship.

 

ILLUS.: Wm. Temple put it like this:

“There cannot be a God of love,” men say, “because if there was, and he looked down on the world, his heart would break.”

The Church points to the cross and says, “It did break.”

It is he who should bear the load.”

The Church points to the cross and says, “He did bear it.”

 

And because he did, he deserves our worship and our devoted obedience

 

 

 

The Cross – Lament and Praise.

Psalm 22

 

  1. I.                   Trouble and Trust – v.1-21.

 

A.       Trouble –

  • feels abandoned by God. v.1-2
  • feels victimised by others. v. 6-8
  • feels sorry for himself. v.12-18

 

B.       Trust –

  • in God and his power.  v.3-5
  • in God’s plans & providential care. v.9-11
  • in God’s promises. v.19-21

 

  1. II.        Praise and Worship – v.22-31.

 

A. Personal. v.22-26

B. Prophetic.  v.26-31

 

III.      Christ and the Cross

Philippians 2v5-11 – Christ’s suffering and

death are followed by exalted praise.

“There cannot be a God of love,” men say, “because if there was, and he looked down on the world, his heart would break.”

The cross says, “It did break.”

It is he who should bear the load.”

The cross says, “He did bear it.”

Wm. Temple

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