Psalm 22 is a great reminder of the great cost Jesus endured in order to be our Savior. We remember the opening words of this psalm as words spoken by Jesus when he was suffering on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”
In the Hebrew tradition of quoting a line of a psalm, Jesus is referring to the whole psalm, and it gives us a window into his thoughts and anguish during the passion of the cross. The word forsaken is never used in Psalms to mean God is somehow removing his presence or turning his back. How could an omniscient, omnipresent God ever be separated from his Son? Rather, it refers to the feeling of the psalmist as God seems to be allowing him to fall into the hands of his enemies.
As Jesus bore the sin of the world, neither the presence of sin nor the amount of sin was a reason for our Holy God to remove himself (in the book of Job, we see the embodiment of sin, Satan, in the very presence of God). However, what God cannot do is look favorably on sin. It is in this moment that God is no longer looking on Jesus as his beloved Son. Innocent Jesus is bearing God’s full wrath for our sin. Isn’t this one of the hardest things to bear—the justifiable wrath of another directed at you while you are in their presence?
In his divinity, Jesus could never be separated from the Godhead, but in his humanity, bearing our sin and God’s just wrath, Jesus was in unfathomable anguish. By quoting this psalm, Jesus allowed us to know the depth of his feelings. It is in our deepest valleys that we can remember he too, has walked through the “valley of the shadow of death.” We have a Savior who loved us enough to endure the cross, and he promises that although we may feel forsaken, he is always there. “He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Is. 53:5).
In verses 19-24, we see a drastic turning point in the psalmist’s lament. In verse two, the psalmist said that the Lord was not answering him. Now he proclaims that God has heard when he cried to him. He confidently declares that he has been rescued and this immediately turns to praise. This praise is not intimate or private. The psalmist shares what God has done with his community and he urges all to join him.
How quick are we to share with others when God has answered our most desperate prayers? Sometimes we hold back because we may not want others to know how desperate our circumstances actually were. Yet, as the psalmist explained, others had despised the affliction of the afflicted, but God had not. He is not repulsed by our humiliating circumstances, but he hears and acts (Is. 64:4). How can we not praise him and share what he has done with others? Oh come, let us adore him!
Read more devotionals from Songs for a King at yourchurch.com/advent.