In looking at Psalm 22, we re-examine what we formerly knew about the Cross in the New Testament in light of the Old Testament. As you go through this meditation on Psalm 22, open your heart to go deeper.
This meditation with additional activities will be used for the Prayer Labyrinth during the Prayer Vigil.
Be sure to sign up to come and take part in this great experience.
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
This is the cry of Jesus from the Cross. Yet it is also a Psalm of David written thousands of years before Jesus ever walked the earth. It is a prophetic psalm that predicts Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus quotes this psalm from the Cross because it is an announcement of his state of mind as he is crucified. The anguish at the start of this psalm is exactly Jesus’ experience. However he also quotes this psalm, because this psalm does not end in despair. Nor did the Cross! As you will see in this labyrinth walk, this psalm takes us somewhere…
3 Yet….you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
This is a common theme in the psalms. When someone is discouraged, in anguish, or feels “God-forsaken” he or she look back and Remember. They remember God’s faithfulness to them in the past and by so doing they Restore hope in God. They remind themselves that God is faithful, and that their ancestors trusted in God and were not put to shame. We, too, can follow this same pattern when our faith needs encouragement. We can look back and bring to mind the times when we trusted God in the past, and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
Close your eyes. See Jesus hanging on the Cross and imagine the scene. As he hangs there for the sins of the world, people are shouting up at him. They are saying, “So, you trusted in God? You said you were God? Look where it got you!”
9Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
Again, Jesus looks back and remembers God’s faithfulness to him in the past. It is poignant because as he suffers, Jesus goes back in his mind to when he was young, with his mother, and how he trusted in God even then! It is also a deeper statement because it reminds us of how God rescued Jesus from Herod who wanted to kill all of the firstborn, by giving Mary’s husband, Joseph, a dream telling him to take the infant Jesus and go to Egypt.
This links back to the Old Testament when another Joseph was thrown into a pit by his angry brothers. He trusted God through it all, and ended up reigning with the Pharoah over all of Egypt. Joseph forgave his brothers for trying to kill him. He brought them to Egypt with him and these brothers became the twelve tribes of Israel. Because Joseph forgave his brothers, God’s people were formed. Because Jesus forgives us we too become God’s people.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
If you were to read a current description of what someone goes through when they are crucified, this psalm fits it perfectly. Dry mouth, disjointed limbs, pierced hands and feet, and the actual dividing up of Jesus’ clothes and casting lots for them as recorded in the gospels, prophesied thousands of years prior.
“All my bones are on display” reminds us that, as Mark’s gospel tells us, Jesus hung naked on the Cross. There was no loincloth for privacy as depicted in art and sculptures; that was put there by the artist out of respect. Crucifixion was done to humiliate and shame the accused, as well as create as much pain as possible before death.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
In the midst of the suffering, Jesus again cries out to God, this time with more hope than he had when he was feeling forsaken. God is strengthening him, and he calls God “my strength.”
22 I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.
Look at the end of this portion of scripture. It says here that God did not hide his face from Jesus. God did not abandon him. God listened to his cry for help! Nor did he scorn the suffering of Jesus. In other words, the suffering had a purpose. It was not just some random event. This is so important for us to remember in our times of trial! Notice, too, that now praise to God starts to bubble forth as the purpose of the Cross and its redemptive power becomes a reality.
Praise will be the theme of the remainder of this psalm because so much good has been accomplished through Christ’s suffering.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him — may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
The great assembly! How like the church around the world this sounds! The wonderful verse “those who seek the Lord will praise him” means that once we know who God is, we can’t help but rejoice! “May your hearts live forever” speaks to eternal life, and the gathering of all the families of the nations bowing down before him brings to mind the other scripture in the New Testament that says that one day “every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him — those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!
We are the people, yet unborn at the time this psalm was written, that have been told of the good news of the Gospel. We are the future generations that have been told about the Lord and are benefitting from his gracious sacrifice. The ripple effect of one event, orchestrated by God more than two thousand years ago, has changed countless lives down through the centuries. There is no power greater than the power of the Cross. He has done it!