I wanted to discuss one of the Psalms today. I read where Psalm 22 is associated with Lent. In reading it I can understand why.
Traditionally Lent was intended as a period of somber reflection, meant to emulate the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert before he began his public ministry. Psalm 22 begins with a lament, like a lost soul, then ends in praise to the Lord, and the redemption found in serving him.
Psalm 22 (New International version)
1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 “He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
9 Yet 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 upon 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.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength 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 have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life 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.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation 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 disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they 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.
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
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.
The first 18 verses are some of the most anguished, and tormented, I have read:
6- But I am a worm not a man, scorned by men and despised by 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 away within me.
16- Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and feet.
I work at having a upbeat, positive view of the world, but anguish and torment are a part of life.
From a commentary about Psalm 22 by Matthew Henry:
“The Spirit of Christ, which was in the prophets, testifies in this psalm, clearly and fully, the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. We have a sorrowful complaint of God’s withdrawings. This may be applied to any child of God, pressed down, overwhelmed with grief and terror. Spiritual desertions are the saints’ sorest afflictions; but even their complaint of these burdens is a sign of spiritual life, and spiritual senses exercised.”
“In these verses we have Christ suffering, and Christ praying; by which we are directed to look for crosses, and to look up to God under them. The very manner of Christ’s death is described, though not in use among the Jews. They pierced his hands and his feet, which were nailed to the accursed tree, and his whole body was left so to hang as to suffer the most severe pain and torture. His natural force failed, being wasted by the fire of Divine wrath preying upon his spirits. Who then can stand before God’s anger? or who knows the power of it? The life of the sinner was forfeited, and the life of the Sacrifice must be the ransom for it. Our Lord Jesus was stripped, when he was crucified, that he might clothe us with the robe of his righteousness. ”
“The Saviour now speaks as risen from the dead.”
“The suffering of the Redeemer was graciously accepted as a full satisfaction for sin. Though it was offered for sinful men, the Father did not despise or abhor it for our sakes. This ought to be the matter of our thanksgiving.”
“Let every tongue confess that he is Lord. High and low, rich and poor, bond and free, meet in Christ. Seeing we cannot keep alive our own souls, it is our wisdom, by obedient faith, to commit our souls to Christ, who is able to save and keep them alive for ever.”
The message of Psalm 22 does reflect both the mournful period that Lent was intended to represent, followed by joyous praise to God, found in the celebration of Christ rising from the dead on Easter.
Byzantine chant – Monastery Simonopetras (psalm 22)