REST on God’s PROMISE even when NOT sensing God’s PRESENCE: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, and from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; and in the night season, and am not silent." (Psalms 22:1-2)
Psalms 22 is one of the psalms most quoted in the New Testament, and is called the “Crucifixion Psalm” for offering many prophetic images of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Just as Isaiah 53 describes the theological significance of Christ’s death, this psalm explicates this historical event itself. The first part of this verse represents the fourth saying of Jesus on the cross of Calvary (see Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). While bearing the sins of the entire humankind, Jesus Christ felt so much abandoned by God, that He cried out in utter anguish even addressing His own Father as “My God” (Isaiah 53:10–12; Gal. 3:13). God had turned His back on the sin He hated, not the Son He loved: "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21).
This psalm naturally falls into two parts. In the first part, King David describes the awful predicament in which he finds himself (vv. 1–21) where he feels forsaken by God in the midst of his enemies, who are compared to ravenous beasts. In fact, David felt totally abandoned (v. 1) and ignored (v. 2) by God. David’s own experience gives way to a prophetic glimpse of what actually happened to his descendant Jesus Christ, as it clearly points to Calvary: the mocking, ridicule, pain, and opposition—all done to an innocent man. The second part of the psalm consists of praise to God for His faithfulness (v. 22–31) by both the worshiping community (vv. 22–26) and the world as a whole (vv. 27–31). Thus, Psalm 22 is a profound lament psalm that concludes as a triumphant psalm of praise for God’s deliverance!
We should clearly understand that King David was a prophet (Acts 2:30), and so was able to write about the Messiah centuries before He came into this world. It is amazing to note that crucifixion was not a Jewish form of capital punishment but was an instrument if death inflicted by the Roman Empire, yet David described it accurately! God had allowed the Romans to rule Israel during the time of Jesus, and David’s prophetic words came to be so true. This clearly indicates that the abandonment that Jesus felt on the cross was part of God’s divine plan to redeem humankind from sin and death. This extreme sense of being forsaken and forgotten was the terror that Job had experienced in the midst of his sufferings (Job 16:11; 30:20) and Jesus felt that same agony when hanging on the cross!
However, this psalm offers hope to us today as it assures us that God is acquainted with our suffering, no matter how horrible. Through it all, David discovered that God is holy (v. 3), trustworthy (vv. 4, 5) who will eventually deliver (vv. 8, 20, 21) by His strength (v. 19). God is with us even when we feel most forsaken, because He is the God who has known us from our mother’s womb (vv. 9–10). We need to seek the Lord, rehearse His character, rejoice (v. 26) and rest on his promise even when we do not sense His intimate presence!
Our Lord Jesus bore loneliness and abandonment on the cross on our behalf so that we should never feel the same abandonment in our lives today. God knows us personally and intimately, and He has promised never to leave or forsake us – ever. For our sakes, our Lord Jesus was forsaken by God, the Father so that we might never be forsaken. Even though we may feel abandoned, let us remember that God has our sorrows and grief always in the center of His heart, and He will never forget or forsake us!