I. Read Psalm 22.
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.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
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.
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.”
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 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.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear 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 within me.
15 My mouthis 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.
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.
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.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear youI 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.
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! (NIV)
Introduction – The most striking thing about this Psalm is the theme of suffering. Many specific details of this suffering are cited in the passion of Jesus (in the Gospels). The mocking mentioned in verse 7 is found in Matthew 27:39-40. The division of his clothing in verse 18 is found in Mark 15:24. As extreme as all this physical suffering was, Martin Luther was moved most of all by verse 1: Why did God forsake his son? These are the words of Jesus on the cross as found in Matthew (27:46) and Mark (15:34). Luther realized that the Son, Jesus, experienced something at that moment that he had never experienced in his entire infinite existence – separation from the Father. As tormenting as the physical pain was, nothing could compare with that sensation of separation from the Godhead. Jesus experienced the wrath of the Father for the sin of those he was to save. This Psalm truly is about the greatest torment that was ever suffered, but it is not primarily the physical suffering that should bring us to our knees: it is understanding what Jesus surrendered to and experienced in separation from the other persons of the Godhead. That is true sacrifice. No one else could offer it. But it doesn’t end with Christ on the cross. Rather, this horrific suffering somehow leads to worship in all the world: “All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you” (verse 27). This is easier to see now. Christ not only suffered, but also rose again, and ascended to reign from the right hand of God. Now people from all nations gather to sing praise to the King who paid for sins and was victorious over death.
In your own words, respond to the questions.
- How many connections do you see in this Psalm with the gospel accounts of the passion? Which one speaks to you the most?
- The passion of Jesus happened about 1000 years after this Psalm was written. Knowing this, how does it make you respond to God?
- Have you ever lost someone whom you loved? Consider the pain you felt due to that separation and imagine the loss felt by Jesus as he experienced separation from the Father for the only time in eternity. How can you apply this pain to your walk with him?
- Knowing that Christ died for your sins, rose victorious over death, and now sits at God’s right hand, how can you become a better worshiper?
II. Pray Psalm 22. Respond with your heart to God by writing out a prayer to Him based on your key thoughts from Psalm 22.
III. Sing Psalm 22. Worship him who suffered by singing the first part of Psalm 22. Listen to or download this setting or view the music (in the Outline).
Or sing this song with the words below. Use the tune from Amazing Grace. Listen to or download the music and view the words of this metrical Psalm.
1 My God, my God, why hast thou me
forsaken? why so far
Art thou from helping me, and from
my words that roaring are?
2 All day, my God, to thee I cry,
yet am not heard by thee;
And in the season of the night
I cannot silent be.
3 But thou art holy, thou that dost
inhabit Isr’el’s praise.
4 Our fathers hoped in thee, they hoped
and thou didst them release.
5 When unto thee they sent their cry,
to them deliv’rance came:
Because they put their trust in thee,
they were not put to shame.
6 But as for me, a worm I am,
and as no man am prized:
Reproach of men I am, and by
the people am despised.
7 All that me see laugh me to scorn;
shoot out the lip do they;
They nod and shake their heads at me,
and, mocking, thus do say,
8 This man did trust in God, that he
would free him by his might:
Let him deliver him, sith he
had in him such delight.
9 But thou art he out of the womb
that didst me safely take;
When I was on my mother’s breasts
thou me to hope didst make.
10 And I was cast upon thy care,
ev’n from the womb till now;
And from my mother’s belly, Lord,
my God and guide art thou.
11 Be not far off, for grief is near,
and none to help is found.
12 Bulls many compass me, strong bulls
of Bashan me surround.
13 Their mouths they opened wide on me,
upon me gape did they,
Like to a lion ravening
and roaring for his prey.
14 Like water I’m poured out, my bones
all out of joint do part:
Amidst my bowels, as the wax,
so melted is my heart.
15 My strength is like a potsherd dried;
my tongue it cleaveth fast
Unto my jaws; and to the dust
of death thou brought me hast.
16 For dogs have compassed me about:
the wicked, that did meet
In their assembly, me enclosed;
they pierced my hands and feet.
17 I all my bones may tell; they do
upon me look and stare.
18 Upon my vesture lots they cast,
and clothes among them share.
19 But be not far, O Lord, my strength;
haste to give help to me.
20 From sword my soul, from pow’r of dogs
my darling set thou free.
21 Out of the roaring lion’s mouth
do thou me shield and save:
For from the horns of unicorns
an ear to me thou gave.
22 I will show forth thy name unto
those that my brethren are;
Amidst the congregation
thy praise I will declare.
23 Praise ye the Lord, who do him fear;
him glorify all ye
The seed of Jacob: fear him all
that Isr’el’s children be.
24 For he despised not nor abhorred
th’ afflicted’s misery;
Nor from him hid his face, but heard
when he to him did cry.
25 Within the congregation great
my praise shall be of thee;
My vows before them that him fear
shall be performed by me.
26 The meek shall eat, and shall be filled;
they also praise shall give
Unto the Lord that do him seek:
your heart shall ever live.
27 All ends of th’ earth remember shall,
and turn the Lord unto;
All kindreds of the nations
to him shall homage do:
28 Because the kingdom to the Lord
doth appertain as his;
Likewise among the nations
the Governor he is.
29 Earth’s fat ones eat, and worship shall:
all who to dust descend
Shall bow to him; none of them can
his soul from death defend.
30 A seed shall service do to him;
unto the Lord it shall
Be for a generation
reckonrd in ages all.
31 They shall come, and they shall declare
his truth and righteousness
Unto a people yet unborn,
and that he hath done this.